UPDATED, 8:30 PM: The deal officially has closed today, and here is a welcoming letter to IMG Worldwide employees from WME Co-CEOs Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel looking forward to “what will surely be an epic collaboration”:
Our acquisition of IMG has officially closed, and we’d like to take this opportunity to express how excited we are to work with all of you.
Whether you’ve been here for 20 years or two weeks, think of today as day one.
IMG wouldn’t be where it is today without the incredible employees that define its culture. You’ve been amazing throughout this process, and we’re ready to get started on what will surely be an epic collaboration.
Patrick and Ariel
PREVIOUSLY, December 18: It’s done now. After some last-minute tweaking of the finer points of the $2.2 billion deal, talent, management and licensing powerhouse IMG Worldwide has been acquired by WME and Silver Lake Partners. WME’s Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell will serve as as co-CEOs of the now mega-agency, though IMG and its more than 3,000 employees worldwide will continue as an independent entity, the parties announced this morning. “IMG has incredible strategic value to WME. The brand’s global reach, outstanding management team and leadership across sports, fashion and media are a strong complement to our business,” Whitesell and Emanuel said in a statement. Details are sketchy and there is a lot of debt being taken on but interestingly the parties revealed today that Mubadala Development Co. will “be a minority investor in the transaction.” Mubadala is the government of Abu Dhabi’s investment arm with a $55 billion portfolio of primarily blue chip companies. Read the full release below:
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. and MENLO PARK, Calif., Dec. 18, 2013 — William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME), one of the world’s leading talent, entertainment and media companies, and Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing, today announced an agreement to acquire IMG Worldwide (IMG). The company is a market leader in college and professional sports, event management, client representation, fashion and multi-media rights management.
“IMG has incredible strategic value to WME. The brand’s global reach, outstanding management team and leadership across sports, fashion and media are a strong complement to our business,” said WME Co-CEOs Patrick Whitesell and Ariel Emanuel. “We are honored to build on the legacy of founder Mark McCormack and recent owner Ted Forstmann. Supported by Silver Lake’s continued partnership, WME and IMG together will deliver a broad range of opportunities and resources to the companies and talent we collectively represent.”
The combination of WME and IMG creates a unique global sports and entertainment platform, operating across North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. WME and IMG together will have an unparalleled client roster; a broad relationship base with sponsors, brands and broadcasters; and marquee assets in sports, events, film and television, and fashion. Patrick Whitesell and Ariel Emanuel will serve as Co-CEOs of the combined company.
“IMG is well positioned in large and expanding end markets, with significant and untapped potential for growth. We look forward to building on IMG’s illustrious heritage by accelerating its existing growth plans and expanding the company’s digital platform,” said Egon Durban, Managing Partner of Silver Lake. “This investment extends our successful partnership with Ari, Patrick and the WME team as the company continues its transformation into an integrated player across the new media landscape.”
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Mubadala Development Company will be a minority investor in the transaction.
Silver Lake and WME were advised and financed by J.P. Morgan, Barclays, RBC Capital Markets and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and advised by The Raine Group, Dean Bradley Osborne, Lazard, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Evercore and Morgan Stanley served as the financial advisors to Forstmann Little