Endeavor, the Hollywood talent juggernaut that owns the art fair and media company Frieze, has acquired World Wrestling Entertainment WWE in a $9.3 billion deal that will see the wrestling promotion company merge with another Endeavor-owned combat sports company in a more than $21 billion merger.
Endeavor announced this week that it has agreed to merge WWE and the Ultimate Fighting Championship UFC, a mixed martial arts company that Endeavor purchased in 2016. According to Endeavor, the two companies generated $2.4 billion in revenue last year and have experienced a 10% annual revenue growth rate since 2019.
After the transaction is completed, Endeavor will own 51% of the new company, while WWE shareholders will own 49%. According to Endeavor, the transaction is expected to close in the second half of the year.
The new company, which has not been named but intends to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol TKO, which is also an abbreviation for the fight term “technical knockout,” will be led by Endeavor boss and art collector Ari Emanuel as CEO, with WWE’s Vince McMahon serving as executive chairman of the board.
It is Endeavor’s latest high-profile acquisition; the company first purchased a 70% stake in Frieze in 2016, the same year it purchased shares in UFC last year, Endeavor bought out UFC. Since acquiring Frieze, Endeavor has expanded with new fairs in Los Angeles where Endeavor is based and Seoul.
I wanted Endeavor to be a cultural ambassador—if you’re going to be a cultural ambassador, the center of that is art, Emanuel told Vanity Fair last year, adding that the importance of art in his industry cannot be measured solely by economic profits and losses.
Frieze announced in 2020 that Simon Fox, a former British media executive, would become the company’s first CEO. Frieze’s business includes media production, music performances, and an art publication, in addition to its four international art fairs.
Endeavor went public in 2021 with an initial public offering on the NYSE. Endeavor made headlines in 2019 after returning a $400 million investment from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund in response to the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.