WME | IMG has appointed longtime NBA executive Michael Ma to be CEO of its China subsidiary, with the goal of expanding the company’ sports and entertainment reach in the country. Ma spent the past 13 years with the NBA where he played a big role in developing the league’s presence in China. He will be based in Beijing.
“Michael brings not only a deep knowledge of the Chinese market, but also incredible experience in cultivating brands within China through his work with the NBA,” WME | IMG co-CEOs Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell said in making the announcement. “We’re looking forward to working alongside Michael to expand our current business in China while creating new opportunities for our clients and partners in one of our fastest growing markets.”
WME | IMG China was formed in June via a Sequoia Capital China-led investment group that includes Tencent, FountainVest Partners and Focus Media. The agency reps several athletes in the country including tennis star Li Na and manages the WGC HSBC Champions and Shenzhen Open; operates fashion events like Shenzhen Fashion Week; and negotiates media rights on behalf of sports entities such as the Chinese Super League.
It’s China expansion will almost certainly include UFC, the mixed-martial arts franchise WME | IMG acquired with other partners in July for $4 billion.