the Japanese technology group, has invested $250m in WME-IMG, which
represents stars ranging from actor Ben Affleck to tennis player Serena
Williams, in a deal that values the entertainment, sports and fashion
company at $5.5bn.
The deal will be announced on Wednesday, according to people familiar
with the matter, and represents a steep increase in the value of WME-IMG
over the past two years. The companies declined to comment.
In 2014 WME, run by Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, completed the
$2.4bn acquisition of IMG, the sports and fashion marketing company, and
secured a second round of investment from Silver Lake. The private
equity firm first bought into WME in 2012, paying $200m for a 31 per
The acquisition of IMG gave WME a leading position in fashion: it owns
one of the industry’s largest modelling agencies and produces fashion
weeks in New York, Berlin, Shenzhen and Toronto. It also owns or
commercially represents several leading golf and tennis tournaments,
including the Championships at Wimbledon.
However, Mr Emanuel and Mr Whitesell, WME-IMG’s co-chief executives, are
known to be keen to bolster the company’s portfolio of assets, building
on the network of talent and events they have assembled.
In 2015, the company added Professional Bull Riders to its roster and
formed a joint venture with Turner, the Time Warner-owned television
group, to operate an “eSports” league. It also bought the Miss Universe
pageant from Donald Trump, the Republican presidential hopeful.
WME-IMG represents entertainment stars ranging from Larry David and
Martin Scorsese to Justin Timberlake and Charlize Theron. It has
expanded beyond its roots as William Morris, Hollywood’s most venerable
talent agency, using its heft with top talent to enter businesses in
marketing and branding.