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SBD/December 19, 2013/Finance
WME's Emanuel, Whitesell Get To Work At IMG As Industry Weighs Impact Of Acquisition
Published December 19, 2013
STRONG & GROWING? In N.Y., Ken Belson reports sources close to WME "believe that IMG's sports offerings fit into the agency's broad focus on entertainment." Sports are "widely seen as having more room to grow than the film and music industries, where Hollywood agents have traditionally reigned." College sports, one of IMG's "largest pursuits, could generate business for some of William Morris's other businesses." That calculation "does not include the untapped opportunities for sports overseas." WME may decide to "sell parts of IMG to help pay for the acquisition, or because they do not fit into the new company's broader profile." It also might "build up the athlete representation business that IMG has been shedding." Belson: "No matter which way it goes, there are unlikely to be any shortcuts, no matter how popular sports is" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/19). Also in N.Y., Abrams & de la Merced write the deal "reflects a shift in how Wall Street has paired up with Hollywood, especially the traditionally clubby world of agencies." While previous generations of financiers "have viewed the talent business as a vanity project, newer deals show that investors are set on remaking the industry, expanding its size and scope." Sources said that CVC Capital and Carlyle Group "each ultimately bid" less than $2B for IMG. IMG for now "will be run separately" from WME, though it will "eventually be merged in some fashion" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/19). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Paul Bond cited sources as saying that bids of less than $1.8B "came in" from CVC, Chernin Entertainment and a "consortium of ICM Partners and the Carlyle Group" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 12/18).
ARI IS GOLD? ESPN.com's Darren Rovell wrote, "The ever-competitive Emanuel had two significant moments in sports in which he exerted his power, although neither worked out particularly well." It was Emanuel's "idea to turn LeBron James' free agency choice in 2010 into the 'The Decision,'" and the "second big move made by Emanuel and his WME team was winning Tim Tebow's marketing rights in March 2012 even though Tebow's contract agents were his competitors at CAA." Tebow "eventually fired WME and hired CAA for his off-the-field work." While the IMG acquisition "might be Emanuel's biggest power play yet, many insiders wonder how it makes much sense considering WME isn't adept in businesses that make IMG the most money." IMG is the "largest independent producer of sports programming in the world," and its "biggest growth engine is its college business" (ESPN.com, 12/18).