Apr 8, 2019

Endeavor no longer looks like the Hollywood talent agency of old

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Endeavor continues to work toward an IPO later this year, but it no longer looks like the Hollywood talent agency that Ari Emanuel first built and later merged with William Morris.

The big picture: Endeavor, backed by such investors as Silver Lake and SoftBank, has arguably morphed into an events company. Not only through the purchases of Ultimate Fighting Championship and Professional Bull Riders, but also through a video streaming effort that's signed such event-centered clients as World Wrestling Entertainment.

It also launched an "experiences" arm that has agreed in principle to buy On Location Experiences, which provides on-site events and access at NFL games.

    • A source puts On Location's enterprise value at around $700 million, with the NFL rolling over its 20% ownership stake. Private equity backers like RedBird Capital, Bruin Sports Capital and 32 Capital will exit — after having bought in at around a $70 million valuation.
    • On Location generated nearly $60 million in 2018 EBITDA, and Endeavor expects to close the deal in several months (assuming no red flags during due diligence).
  • All of this comes shortly after Endeavor unloaded its 49% stake in digital ad company Droga5 to Accenture Interactive, thus further accentuating the events part of its income statement.

The bottom line: We don't know the exact breakdown of Endeavor's representation vs. events units, particularly since the former also includes media rights. But we do know that this will look a lot different than it did when Silver Lake first invested five years ago.

  • Also worth remembering that Endeavor last fall turned down a $400 million investment from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

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