MMA (UFC) and pro wrestling brands (WWE) will be combined into a new, publicly traded business called “TKO” that will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange, according to a Monday announcement from Endeavor, the parent company of the UFC, and WWE.
The two largest international brands in combat sports will combine with the sale of WWE to Endeavor, which is anticipated to close in the second half of this year, subject to regulatory approval.
With the UFC valued at $12.1 billion and WWE at $9.3 billion, the new, unnamed sports entertainment business is valued at $21.4 billion following the transaction. Ari Emanuel, the current CEO of Endeavor, will also lead the new business as its CEO.
WWE and UFC merge to form a giant
The executive head of the 11-member board will be Vince McMahon, who in 1982 paid his father $1 million to acquire what was then known as the WWF. Both the UFC and WWE will continue to be led by Dana White and Nick Khan, respectively.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring together two leading pure-play sports and entertainment companies,” Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said.
WWE hired several outside companies in January to investigate potential strategic options, which launched the sales process. After being accused of using company funds to conceal claims of sexual misconduct, McMahon announced his retirement last summer. He returned as executive chairman in January to assist with the process.
“The new company will be well-positioned to maximize the value of our combined media rights, enhance sponsorship monetization, develop new forms of content, and pursue other strategic mergers and acquisitions to further bolster our strong stable of brands,” said McMahon, 77. “I, along with the current WWE management team, look forward to working closely with Ari and the Endeavor and UFC teams to take the businesses to the next level.” (H/T – ABC.com)