x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Mubadala takes a slice of Hollywood action

Strategic investment company of the Abu Dhabi Government will be a minority investor in the deal which sees Silver Lake Management and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment agreeing to buy IMG Worldwide.

William Morris represents some of Hollywood’s biggest actors, directors and writers, including Matt Damon. Courtesy ADIEFF
William Morris represents some of Hollywood’s biggest actors, directors and writers, including Matt Damon. Courtesy ADIEFF

Silver Lake Management and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment have agreed to buy IMG Worldwide, creating an agency with top talent cutting across both sports and entertainment.

William Morris said that Mubadala, the strategic investment company of the Abu Dhabi Government, will be a minority investor in the deal.

The companies are paying about US$2.4 billion to buy IMG from Forstmann Little & Company according to a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified as the information is private. The deal was announced yesterday in a statement that did not include terms.

William Morris represents some of Hollywood’s biggest actors, directors and writers, including Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Adding IMG’s stable of athletes and models, including Peyton Manning and Gisele Bundchen, will create television and digital opportunities for William Morris, said the former Madison Square Garden president Bob Gutkowski ahead of the announcement.

“There are certainly content opportunities for William Morris,” said Mr Gutkowski, who is now a partner in Lake Success, New York-based Innovative Sports & Entertainment, which advises private equity in sports, entertainment and media company investments. “There are opportunities to build a television arm of IMG.”

IMG, based in New York, also manages fashion and sports events such as Wimbledon, as well as the capital’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and Mubadala World Tennis Championship. Founded in 1960, the company has 3,500 employees globally, according to its website.

The auction for IMG had pitted Silver Lake, based in California, and William Morris against CVC Capital Partners, owner of the Formula One car-racing series, people with knowledge of the matter have said. Carlyle Group was also among bidders, the people said.

Spokesmen for Forstmann Little, Silver Lake and CVC declined to comment.

William Morris Endeavor was created when Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor acquired William Morris in 2009. The Beverly Hills company is also a leading representative of authors and recording artists. In 2012, Silver Lake acquired a 31 percent stake in William Morris Endeavor.

Forstmann Little had sought as much as $2.5 billion for IMG, people said earlier this month.

At the start of the auction the buyout firm told bidders that IMG would generate $200 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization this year, people familiar with the situation said.

business@thenational.ae