WWE and the company that runs Ultimate Fighting Championship will combine to create a $21.4 billion sports entertainment company, the two companies announced Monday.
A new publicly traded company will be formed that houses the UFC and WWE brands. Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. will hold a 51% controlling interest in the new company once the deal is complete. Existing WWE shareholders will hold a 49% stake in the new company.
The new business will be lead by Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel. He’ll also remain as Endeavor CEO. Vince McMahon, executive chairman at WWE, will serve in the same role at the new company.
The announcement comes after McMahon, the founder and majority shareholder of WWE, returned to the company in January and said it could be up for sale.
Rumors swirled about who might be interested in buying WWE, with chatter focusing on companies such as Endeavor, Disney, Fox, Comcast, Amazon and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Industry experts had viewed WWE as an attractive acquisition target given its global reach and loyal fanbase, which includes everyone from minors to seniors and people with a wide range of incomes.
The company is also a social media powerhouse. It surpassed 16 billion social video views in the final quarter of last year. It has nearly 94 million YouTube subscribers and more than 20 million followers on TikTok. Its female wrestlers comprise five out of the top 15 most followed female athletes in the world, across Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, led by Ronda Rousey with 36.1 million followers.
WWE had more than 7.5 billion digital and social media views in January and February of this year, up 15% from the same time frame a year ago.
Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., based in Stamford, Connecticut, slumped 4% before the opening bell Monday. Shares of Endeavor, based in Beverly Hills, California, rose 3%.
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