OpenBet, IMG Arena parent Endeavor going private in $13B deal

Silver Lake taking Endeavor private
Image: Shutterstock

Talent and entertainment agency Endeavor Group Holdings will transform into a private company in 2025 after private equity firm Silver Lake agreed to a deal worth $13 billion.

Silver Lake is the biggest investor in Endeavor, holding around 31% of outstanding shares as of the end of 2023. It stated publicly last October that it was working to take Endeavor private after the holding company had announced a review to explore strategic alternatives.

The transaction will be financed through a combination of Silver Lake equity and additional capital from investors including Mubadala Investment Company and DFO Management. The deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2025. Endeavor stockholders will receive $27.50 per share in cash, a premium of 55% on the closing price of $17.72 before Silver Lake’s announcement last fall. That values Endeavor at $8.2 billion and represents a $13 billion equity value including the company’s debts.

Endeavor Group Holdings was founded in April 2009 through the merger of the William Morris Agency and Endeavor Talent Agency. It represents a variety of performance artists, major sports and college sports leagues and is the majority owner of World Wrestling Entertainment and the Ultimate Fighting Championship through TKO Group.

TKO will not be included in the privatization deal and will remain a publicly traded company.

Endeavor also owns both sportsbook technology and services provider OpenBet and sports data and content company IMG Arena.

The company’s CEO Ari Emanuel, Executive Chairman Patrick Whitsell, and Silver Lake collectively hold 91.5% of Endeavor’s voting stock. The deal will not be presented to minority shareholders for a vote. Reuters cites a well-placed source as claiming that Endeavor’s special committee asked for a minority shareholder vote as part of the deal but Silver Lake denied the request.

Deal comes amid OpenBet, IMG merger

In February of this year, Endeavor announced that it is formally merging OpenBet and IMG Arena, its two companies in the sports betting and data business division, under a single banner under the OpenBet name.

Endeavor had acquired OpenBet from Light & Wonder in September 2022 for $800 million and Endeavor president and COO Mark Shapiro said at the time of this year’s merger announcement that the company always envisioned “a holistic integration” with IMG Arena to create a leader in the global betting, sports data and technology industry.

Endeavor has owned sports content and data business IMG Arena since 2014 when it brought it on board as part of Silver Lake and Endeavour’s $2.3 billion acquisition of IMG Entertainment.

Second major privatization announcement in 24 hours

The Endeavor announcement arrives the day after another major privatization deal was unveiled.

Canadian payments firm Nuvei agreed a $6.3 billion acquisition deal with private equity firm Advent International after establishing a special committee to assess offers following reports of interest from Advent. That deal is expected to close before the end of 2024 or during the first quarter of 2025. Unlike the Endeavor-Silver Lake deal, Nuvei’s privatization is subject to approval from shareholders.