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WWE and UFC merge to form a sports entertainment giant

Like CNBC primed yesterday, Ari Emanuel’s Endeavor Group acquires World Wrestling Entertainment and will spawn a new publicly traded company combining it with Ultimate Fighting Championship. The deal values ​​WWE, owned and run by the McMahon family for decades, at $9.3 billion and the Endeavor-owned UFC at $12.1 billion.

Both companies expect the deal to close by the end of 2023. If so, the result will be a combined sports entertainment powerhouse with a fiery, loyal audience for each brand. WWE just wrapped up WrestleMania, the biggest live event spectacle of the year, over two nights at SoFi Stadium. The company claims it achieved a combined attendance of 161,892 people at the stadium. The event featured WWE’s top superstars and celebrities, such as Logan Paul – who somehow hits a thousand times to put on impressive pro wrestling matches – and Snoop Dogg.

The unscripted UFC, which Endeavor took full control of in 2021 after buying a majority stake years earlier, has also proven to be a wise investment with hugely successful pay-per-view events. Following CNBC’s report on the impending deal, MMA star Conor McGregor celebrated the news on Sunday night.

Endeavor will own 51 percent of the new company, while WWE shareholders will get the remaining 49 percent. Emanuel will serve as the CEO of the new company, while also retaining his CEO role at Endeavor. Vince McMahon becomes chairman of the board. Dana White will remain president of UFC, while current WWE CEO Nick Khan will become president of the wrestling business.

McMahon returned to WWE in January after retiring months earlier in July. His abrupt departure from the company he turned into a global cultural phenomenon followed numerous reports The Wall Street Journal about payments related to affairs and claims of sexual misconduct. WWE conducted an investigation, but McMahon – by far the largest shareholder in the company – returned with a mission to sell the company he bought from his father in 1982. In the decades since he took over, WWE has produced megastars such as Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena and Roman Reigns.

WWE has openly pursued a sale in recent months as the company’s lucrative TV deals with Fox and Comcast are about to renew. Monday Night Raw And Smackdown continue to rank among the highest-rated programs on TV, and the company signed a multi-year deal with Peacock in 2021 — reportedly for $1 billion — that brought WWE’s extensive vault and monthly premium live events to the streaming service.

“This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is going,” Emanuel said in a press release. “Given the incredible work Ari and Endeavor have done to grow the UFC brand – almost doubling sales over the past seven years – and the immense success we’ve already had working with their team on a number of companies, I believe this is without a doubt the best outcome for our shareholders and other stakeholders,” said McMahon.

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