Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment is close to being sold to Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Group, the UFC’s parent company, according to the New York Post.
People familiar with the matter told Reuters that Endeavor is open to buying WWE in an all-stock deal.
The sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential. The deal could be announced as early as this week.
Endeavor shareholders will own 51 percent of the fight and entertainment company, while WWE shareholders will get 49 percent, sources told CNBC.
WWE shares, up more than 30 percent this year, closed Friday at $91.26, giving the company a market capitalization of $6.8 billion. Endeavor has a market value of $11.3 billion, according to Reuters.
Led by Hollywood power broker Ari Emanuel, Emanuel worked to transform Endeavor into a sports and entertainment powerhouse, making more than 20 acquisitions. His investments — bull riding events, fashion shows and the Miami Open and Madrid Open tennis tournaments — sought to diversify the company, which grew out of a tradition rooted in representing film and television talent.
In 2016, Endeavor took a majority stake in Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world’s largest martial arts organization, in a $4.2 billion deal, and bought the company’s remaining shares with its IPO five years later.
In regulatory filings, Endeavor argues that it is benefiting from the rising value of owning a rare — but popular — asset like sports.
In January, shortly after Vince McMahon’s return to the company, WWE said it was exploring strategic options that included selling. WWE hired the Reign Group and the law firm Kirkland & Ellis as its consultants for the review.
McMahon retired as CEO and chairman of the company in July last year, following an investigation into his misconduct. His daughter Stephanie McMahon resigned as co-CEO and chairman of the company less than a week after her father returned to the board.
Upon his return, McMahon, who owns a majority stake in the company, began a strategic review and, according to published reports, sought to negotiate a sale of WWE’s media rights, including shows such as “SmackDown,” before renegotiating.