WWE merges with UFC in sales talks with Endeavor – The Hollywood Reporter

Forty-three years after Vince McMahon founded the company now known as the WWEand 70 years after his father stepped into the professional wrestling world, the McMahon family seems ready to relinquish control of their empire and strike a billion-dollar deal to sell the WWE to Adventure, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Assuming the deal is finalized, the WWE is expected to merge with Endeavour’s UFC to create a new stand-alone public company, with the Ari Emanuel-led company holding a majority stake. CNBC first reported the deal with Endeavor.

The companies are in advanced talks and a deal may be announced this week. The WWE is holding its flagship Wrestlemania event in Los Angeles this weekend.

The potential sale comes after McMahon’s return to the sports entertainment company as executive chairman in January. He retired in 2022 following an investigation into board misconduct. McMahon was succeeded as CEO by his daughter Stephanie McMahon, and Nick Khan, CAA’s former co-head of TV who joined the WWE as president in 2020. Stephanie left her role in January following her father’s return.

The board’s investigation into McMahon centered on allegations that he had sexual relations with company employees and then paid the women millions of dollars in severance pay, along with non-disclosure agreements. The company said in November that its investigation was complete.

McMahon remained the majority owner of the WWE, leading to speculation even then that he might be pursuing a sale.

Endeavor, the owner of mixed martial arts promoter UFC, talent mega agency WME, and other companies like IMG and Professional Bull Riders, is a perfect fit for the WWE. Since going public in 2021, Endeavor has attempted to build its own sporting events business, primarily through UFC and to a lesser extent PBR. WWE superstars have also made frequent transitions to film and TV, with some, such as Dwayne Johnson (stage name “The Rock”) and John Cena, finding wide appeal.

A combined UFC and WME could also collaborate in some rights negotiations.

Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel “has not been shy about his interest in WWE since Vince McMahon retired from the company,” LightShed analysts Brandon Ross, Richard Greenfield and Mark Kelley wrote in a Jan. 12 report. “He believes he can unlock value for WWE in the same way he did for UFC, which he acquired prior to their latest renewal cycle, by closing rights deals and raising significant sponsorship dollars.”

To that end, the deal being discussed focuses on stock rather than cash, with WWE shareholders putting their equity into the new venture.