SBD/December 11, 2012/Finance

Sources: Forstmann Little Could Sell IMG For $2B With Rival Suitors Lining Up

Private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co. is “preparing to put its powerhouse sports agency IMG Worldwide up for sale next year,” and the sale “could fetch as much as $2 billion,” according to sources cited by Rachel Abrams of DAILY VARIETY. Sources said that Goldman Sachs has been “informally helping Forstmann prep IMG for a sale.” It is unclear whether the investment bank “has officially signed on to shop IMG, but the firm has deep ties to Forstmann Little.” Still, IMG Senior VP/Corporate Communications Jim Gallagher said that the company “is not for sale.” Abrams wrote IMG is “seen as a marquee asset with unique infrastructure in the sports event world.” A source said that Forstmann Little, which acquired IMG in ‘04, “quietly shopped the asset earlier this year for about $3 billion.” IMG's global operations include “robust sports marketing, event management, licensing, fashion, representation and production businesses.” It handles “retailing and licensing for the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which organizes the Wimbledon tennis tournaments, and produces high-end golf, soccer, rugby and cricket events around the world, among its other sports activities.” IMG's competitors in the sports business “include CAA and the Wasserman Media Group.” CAA, with its “growing sports ambitions, is seen by industry observers as a likely bidder for the asset.” Some believe that CAA's “private equity investor TPG could eye IMG as a potential acquisition to pair with the agency.” Observers have suggested that private equity firm Guggenheim Partners and India-based Reliance -- which already has a partnership with IMG -- “could also be in the mix” (VARIETY.com, 12/10).
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