Mark Shapiro, business partner of Ari Emanuel and co-owner of Endeavor, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter recently about the deal that has merged the UFC and WWE into a single company.
The company set to manage both the UFC and WWE does not have a name yet (though its stock ticker has been listed as TKO). The company will be 51% owned by Endeavor (who fully own the UFC) and 49% owned by the WWE’s existing shareholders.
The Hollywood Reporter asked Mark Shapiro about the deal and was particularly interested in how the company would manage two controversial and “combustible” characters in the forms of Dana White and Vince McMahon.
Shapiro made it clear that he and Ari Emanuel plan to stay out of day-to-day business, trusting the current decision makers at both the UFC and WWE. White, who was caught on camera slapping his wife in the face this year, will remain President of the UFC and McMahon, who returned to the WWE after stepping down last year due to sexual misconduct and hush-money allegations, will serve as Executive Chairman of the Board for the new company. Nick Khan is set to keep his role as CEO of WWE.
“We will be involved in those areas we believe have the most opportunity to generate significant profit and profit potential,” said Shapiro.
Ari Emanuel echoed Shapiro’s statement
Shapiro’s messaging is consistent with what we’ve heard from Dana White lately. On April 7 he appeared on The Pat McAfee show where he said Ari Emanuel “is one of those guys that lets you run your business, that lets you do what you do.”
“If you need him, you pick up the phone and call him and he can make anything happen,” added White.
In a rare media appearance Emanuel told CNBC recently that he remains fully confident in White and McMahon, despite all their baggage.
“I would have body slammed [McMahon] if he thought he was going to leave,” remarked Emanuel. “I’m the luckiest guy in the world because I got Vince McMahon, a visionary that sees around corners; I’ve got Dana White and what we’ve built — that’s pretty unstoppable.”
Vince McMahon will be on a tight leash
The Hollywood Reporter added that, in McMahon’s case, he will need to abide by an equal opportunity and non-harassment policy, code of conduct and conflict of interest clause in order to stay involved with the WWE.
That outlet also stated that Bank Of America’s Reif Ehrlich has outlined the ‘downside risks’ of the UFC-WWE merger and that she did not mention White or McMahon in her assessment. Instead she listed a slowdown in content spend and lower-than-expected right fees.
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