The expected merger between UFC and the professional wrestling promotion WWE is a work in progress, but it’s one that appears to be marching toward its completion. In the latest development, the duo’s publicly-listed collaboration officially has a name.
When the two entertainment companies merge, they will go by the name TKO Group Holdings, as confirmed by an Endeavor spokesperson in a report to CNBC. It was previously known that TKO would be the trading symbol for the merger. However, we are now learning that the term synonymous with combat sports will end up being part of the title of the company in total.
TKO first announced last month
News first broke in early April that the two companies—which are already publicly traded—would break off into a new publicly traded entity on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). A filing with the Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) confirmed the agreement on April 2, and the deal was publicly announced the next day. Endeavor’s announcement last month stated that the merger will form a new company worth over $21 billion.
Of the two, WWE has a long history on the stock market. The wrestling promotion first went public in 1999 and has been listed on the NYSE since. UFC’s parent company, Endeavor, only first went public in 2021.
Lengthy filing provides insight into merger
The merger between UFC and WWE is still some time away from becoming a reality. For all the i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed, the deal must be approved by regulators, via a lengthy review process first. Current reports have the merger set to officially take effect in the second half of 2023.
In the background, the technical paperwork needed to inch further toward the melding of sports-entertainment properties continues to be filed. On Friday, WWE submitted a 549-page S-4 Form to the SEC. This form, per Investopedia, is used to “register any material information related to a merger or acquisition.” The document describes the details of the attempted move, including risk factors and contracts involved.
Filing shows McMahon was wanted in chairman position
The filing confirmed that the merger will give Endeavor 51 percent of voting power in the company, with WWE holding 49 percent. The lengthy document includes a timeline from when WWE first announced their intentions to sell, the negotiation process between Endeavor and WWE, and how the official deal was settled. It describes how the initial proposal from Endeavor—which was submitted in early February—asked that they would own 57 percent of the business while WWE had 43 percent.
But Endeavor’s persistence to keep wrestling businessman Vince McMahon on, both as someone involved with the business and as someone who can appoint five directors within the company, was what allowed them to land on a deal that saw them control a slim majority of 51 percent instead. McMahon’s proposed involvement in the company was described as “fundamental to Endeavor’s thesis for pursuing a transaction with the WWE.”
McMahon, the name arguably most synonymous with WWE’s financial success, stepped down from a chairman and CEO position last year after the company’s board started to investigate alleged payments made to former employees amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
McMahon, who remained the company’s controlling shareholder during his absence, returned in January of this year with the intention of selling the company. But the deal that ended up being made put him in a position that keeps him onboard until “death, resignation or incapacity.”
Under the structure of TKO Group Holdings, Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel is expected to be the CEO. McMahon will be an executive chairman. Mark Shapiro will serve as a President and COO of the company, and Jason Lublin and Andrw Schieimer will serve as CFOs. Dana White will remain in his UFC President role, and Nick Khan will be WWE President.
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