Endeavor, the entertainment group founded by Hollywood power broker Ari Emanuel, is aiming for a valuation of more than $10bn in an upcoming initial public offering, well above the $8bn valuation it sought in an abortive attempt at a flotation in 2019.
Its emboldened aspirations come in defiance of a coronavirus pandemic that has wiped nearly one-quarter off the media group’s annual revenues and saddled it with large one-off costs as it fired workers and wrote down the value of impaired assets.
Endeavor is hoping to raise as much as $1.8bn in the IPO and a simultaneous private placement of shares. It said on Tuesday it would raise $1.3bn from private investors including Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala and Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, with the remaining $500m coming from stock market investors.
Among the other backers of the private transaction are wealthy individuals such as the computer entrepreneur Michael Dell, hedge funds including Third Point and Elliott Management, and the venture capital firm Silver Lake, which has been among Endeavor’s biggest backers since 2012.
Emanuel founded Endeavor in 1995 as a talent agency, and has since acquired companies focusing on sports, concerts and live events including the Miss Universe beauty pageant.
Endeavor plans to take full ownership of Ultimate Fighting Championship alongside the IPO. It will buy the 49.9 per cent of the mixed martial arts franchise that it does not already own, using cash and Endeavor shares.
KKR, the private equity firm that bought a large chunk of UFC in 2016, will then sell Endeavor shares worth $437m to the same group of investors participating in the private placement.
Endeavor previously announced plans to go public in 2019, when it intended to raise as much as $712m, before abandoning the plans on limited investor demand.
The IPO has been structured using an umbrella partnership corporation, or “up-C”, to offer tax advantages to executives and early backers like Silver Lake.
Investors in the IPO will purchase a stake in the public holding company, which in turn will own part of an underlying limited liability company. Executives and early backers will continue to hold some of their economic interests directly in that limited liability company.
The structure could enable those insiders to payouts of as much as $2.3bn over 15 years, according to the prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.