WME | IMG and a consortium led by venture capital and private equity firm Sequoia Capital China just unveiled a new China-based joint venture with the aim of accelerating the agency’s growth in the Middle Kingdom in its core fields of sports and entertainment. Tencent and FountainVest Partners also participated in the investment.
The agency already has a major presence in China, repping athletes, managing pro golf and tennis events, operating mass participation events including The Color Run and Tough Mudder, staging fashion events like Shenzhen Fashion Week, negotiating media rights, operating a joint venture with CCTV to develop and promote sporting events, and providing strategic counsel.
“We have a deep history in China rooted in our sports business across areas as varied as events, media, representation and licensing,” said WME|IMG co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell in a statement. “Through Sequoia Capital China’s incredible effort in leading this consortium and creating this joint venture, we’re able to expand our business while embarking on new initiatives to create exciting opportunities for our clients and partners.”
In April, a month after Japan’s Softbank invested $250 million in WME|IMG that valued it at $5.5 billion, the talent and sports agency landed a $55M investment from mutual fund company Fidelity Management and Research.
Sequoia Capital China’s portfolio includes entertainment giants Alibaba, Alibaba Pictures and Wanda Cinemas.
“WME | IMG has had a formidable foothold in China for a number of years,” said Sequoia Capital China founder and managing partner Neil Shen. “With the incredible growth they have been experiencing domestically, we saw this as a perfect opportunity to help them replicate that success in China within both sports and entertainment. This partnership is another example that Sequoia Capital China plays an instrumental role in helping leading Internet and media companies grow and expand in China.”
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