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Volume 24 No. 179
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WME-IMG Gets Spending Power With Recent Cash Infusion; Big Purchase Coming Soon?

WME-IMG has given itself "plenty of additional fuel" with a recent $1.1B investment, but the additional funds "may also mean the big-spending agency needed some more financial support," according to Preesberg & Burch of THE WRAP. WME-IMG said that the move is "all about growth." But Vanity Fair financial journalist William Cohan, who has written extensively about the agency, said, "The company overpaid for IMG. And I think they’ve only added to their troubles by buying UFC." He added, "Buying IMG was a disaster. It was a disaster when they added UFC, and it’s still a disaster." Cohan said that WME-IMG co-CEO Ari Emanuel "getting the Canadian pension fund to invest 'strikes me as a minor miracle.'" The recent history of WME-IMG indicates its cash influxes are "soon followed by new acquisitions." Only months after a $55M investment from Fidelity last year, the agency "announced its blockbuster UFC deal." Its $1.1B windfall could soon be "harnessed into another blue chip move -- or moves -- from the industry powerhouse." One veteran Hollywood exec said the recent cash infusion "'reinforces' Emanuel’s position at WME-IMG." He said that he is "only getting stronger as a leader." However, Cohan said that the new investment "could dilute Emanuel’s ownership in the agency." Cohan: "I’ve got to believe he’s getting diluted down. He’s still Ari Emanuel, he’s a force of nature as you say, but I suspect this dilutes him further and the other management owners of the company" (THEWRAP.com, 8/2).