Word circulated Sunday that a deal for a majority stake was imminent, and Deadline sources confirmed as much. But the publicly traded deal partners had no official comment. CNBC had the first report of the transaction crossing the finish line. A formal announcement of the deal is expected as soon as Monday.
The WWE ended last week with a market value of $6.8 billion. Endeavor gained full control of UFC in 2021 by committing to raise at least $1.75 billion after teaming with investors in 2016 to buy a majority stake for $4 billion. Plans call for the two to be combined into a new, publicly traded entity, with Endeavor owning 51% and WWE 49%, CNBC reported.
WWE remains a TV ratings juggernaut and a major presence in streaming, with news of the Endeavor team-up coming on the same weekend as the 39th edition of Wrestlemania, its annual extravaganza held this year in LA. NBCUniversal’s Peacock in 2021 took over the WWE’s formerly stand-alone streaming service, adding pay-per-view events and other programming to its premium subscription tier. NBCU’s USA Network also airs the WWE’s weekly showcase Raw, with Fox airing Smackdown.
With those major rights deals about to come up for renewal, speculation had swirled for months about rightsholders potentially entering into a broader relationship with the WWE. The company hired Raine Group earlier this year to explore strategic alternatives. Led by Ari Emanuel, Endeavor had long been been seen as a front-runner to acquire WWE.
Vince McMahon owns about 40% of WWE and has 80% of the voting control of its stock. The exec’s standing with the company he took over from his father four decades ago suddenly came into question last year after word surfaced of multiple payments to women over alleged sexual harassment and misconduct. He stepped aside as chairman and CEO for several months before returning to the company as executive chairman in January following an investigation. McMahon repaid $17.4 million to the company in connection with those settlements, according to an SEC filing last month.
This content was originally published here.