SBJ/July 26 - August 1, 2004/Finance

Investment book on IMG sent out to select group

IMG’s investment banker, Rothschild LLC, has sent out an investment “book” to at least nine potential financial partners for the Cleveland-based sports management and marketing giant, including individuals and companies, sources said.

One of the groups receiving a book is said to be led by Ted Forstmann, senior founding partner of New York buyout firm Forstmann Little & Co. Forstmann did not return a telephone call.

IMG’s top executives are trying to borrow money to buy the privately held company. It is not clear whether books went only to potential financiers of the planned management-led buyout or also to outright bidders for the company.

An IMG spokeswoman confirmed that the book went out, but would not comment on who received it or give any other details.

It could not be determined who received the book, which details the secretive company’s finances, but sources said that many companies and individuals who asked Rothschild for a book were turned down, among them Clear Channel Communications, which owns IMG competitor SFX Sports. Clear Channel spokeswoman Jean Gonsoulin, said, “Like all major companies, we are looking at investment and acquisition opportunities all the time, but we don’t ever discuss those in the media.”

Entertainment companies also are said to be interested in taking a peek at IMG, and especially its television production and distribution arm, TWI.

In a memo sent to IMG employees June 1, IMG co-CEOs Bob Kain and Alastair Johnston telegraphed their intention to limit the process. “Meetings with potential partners have not yet begun, but our goal is to begin discussions with a small, targeted group in the next two or three months,” they wrote, adding that they were seeking financing partners “to enhance our profitable expansion and to provide our current owners with some liquidity.”

JOHNSON PROMOTED: IMG senior corporate vice president Peter Johnson, who spent more than a decade building the agency’s team-sport athlete representation practice, has been promoted to COO. Johnson was an architect of IMG’s restructuring, which led to a work force reduction of 15 percent.

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