SBD/May 26, 2011/Labor and Agents

Forstmann Discusses His Plan For IMG, How Cancer Has Changed It

Forstmann said he bought IMG in '04 in order to make money, then sell
IMG Chair & CEO Ted Forstmann "wants to complete one last corporate turnaround as the grand finale of his storied career," and he is "focused on the transformation" of IMG, according to Andrew Ross Sorkin of the N.Y. TIMES. Forstmann, now 71 and battling brain cancer, bought IMG in '04 for $750M, and he "considers it unfinished business." He said, "What I want to do is build IMG, and I’d like to do it quicker than I was going to. ... I want to make a bunch of money now, stick it in a charitable trust and give it away." Forstmann said he acquired IMG to "make a bunch of money, get it out of this thing and spend it on kids in the world." He noted that he is "still haunted by articles that said he acquired IMG to simply fraternize 'with the golfers or the models or whatever it is.'" When he bought IMG, he was "roundly criticized for overpaying for the trophy business, a point he now says was true." Forstmann: “I hugely overpaid for it." But Sorkin noted over the last six years, Forstmann "has transformed the company from a traditional talent agency to a global media entertainment and licensing business." IMG, which was "barely break-even when he bought it," made $110M last year, and is expected to earn $140M in '11 and $200M "within the next two years." Despite undergoing treatment for cancer, Forstmann "doesn’t seem ready" to sell his stake in IMG. He "doesn’t know how much time he has to live," but said that he still goes into the office because "he still has work to do." Forstmann: "This is not how I want to end. It's a bend in the road for me. It’s kind of arrogant to put it that way, but that’s the way I want it to be" (NYTIMES.com, 5/23).

BEHIND STEINBERG'S EXIT: Forstmann met with recently departed IMG Global Golf Division Head Mark Steinberg late afternoon Tuesday in Forstmann’s office at IMG for 30 minutes, several hours before the company issued a press release announcing the re-organization of the division, sources said. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Steinberg’s future at the company, sources said. Steinberg had signed a two-and-a-half-year deal to remain at IMG in late ‘08, but that deal was set to expire on June 30. Under the terms of that deal, Steinberg could not speak to any new potential employers or business partners until June 1. Forstmann and Steinberg, who do not have a close relationship, were the only two people in the meeting and the door was closed, a source said. The meeting was business-like, said the source. “There was no ugliness, no screaming,” this source said. Several hours after the meeting, IMG issued a release naming Guy Kinnings and Robbie Henchman the new co-heads of IMG Golf. Steinberg yesterday responded to text messages seeking comment about his situation, but he declined to comment at this time (Liz Mullen, SportsBusiness Journal).
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