SBD/April 11, 2012/People and Pop Culture

IMG Chair & CEO Michael Dolan Discusses Forstmann's Legacy, Global Expansion

Dolan said when he tells others IMG is not for sale, "we mean it"
IMG Chair & CEO MICHAEL DOLAN is in charge of maintaining the agency’s “core business of managing top models and athletes,” as well as sporting events, and “expanding its efforts to create sports leagues, events and venues in China, Brazil and India,” according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. In the U.S., IMG is “working to consolidate its dominance in college-sports licensing.” In a Q&A, Dolan discussed the late TED FORSTMANN's “long shadow and IMG’s bets on emerging markets like India and Brazil.” The following is an excerpt from that Q&A.

Q: Will IMG continue to exist as an independent company?
Dolan: It very much will. The people at Forstmann Little, which owns the company, see the progress we have made and they like what they have seen so far.

Q: Do you take calls from people interested in buying the company?
Dolan: I pick up the phone, but it's a very brief conversation because we're not for sale, and we mean it.

Q: You had little experience in the sports business when you came to IMG. How did you end up there?
Dolan: Ted and I met two years ago. I was basically retired, but the more we talked about IMG and I shared my experiences at Y&R, the more it seemed like I could be helpful.

Q: College sports licensing and international investments, not athlete representation, seem poised to drive much of the company's growth.
Dolan: Ted saw IMG as coming in and filling a void as a company that takes an ownership interest in the leagues and the rights associated with them. Rather than earning a commission or a fee, (IMG) shares in the success of the value of the product and the venues we create. The model would be India Premier League cricket, (which IMG got a fee for setting up and running.) It is probably one of the most successful launches in the sports industry of the past 50 years. But we never had an equity interest there.

Q: Where do you see growth in the short term?
Dolan: You'd have to look at our college business, where we made a number of acquisitions for media rights that Ted pursued that I'd say were brilliant, because it created a one-stop place for advertisers to reach the market. I'd compare the college sports-rights business to where the cable industry was 20 years ago.

Q: How long will it take to see profits in the developing countries?
Dolan: Some of our joint ventures will begin to show profits in 1 ½ to two years (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/11).
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