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Vince McMahon's retirement could ignite WWE sale talk

Jul 25, 2022
Vince McMahon attends a press conference to announce that WWE Wrestlemania 29 will be held at MetLife Stadium in 2013 at MetLife Stadium on February 16, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Vince McMahon. Photo: Michael N. Todaro/Getty Images

Vince McMahon's abrupt retirement as WWE's chief executive could reignite sale talks under newly installed co-CEO Nick Khan.

Why it matters: Speculation of a potential sale for the global wrestling outfit has swirled ever since Khan joined as president in 2020. Now he runs the $5 billion company alongside Vince's daughter, Stephanie.

Driving the news: McMahon shocked the WWE world on Friday when he announced he would retire as chairman and CEO amid an investigation into his behavior that included sexual misconduct.

  • McMahon had voluntarily stepped back from his duties as CEO last month.

The intrigue: Khan's hiring in 2020 immediately raised questions about whether or not it meant WWE would eventually sell.

  • Khan is no stranger to dealmaking. He joined after eight years at CAA, where he was co-head of the TV department. He represented WWE in its media rights talks, including the move of the "Smackdown" franchise from NBCUniversal to Fox.
  • Upon joining, Khan and McMahon oversaw a near-total remake of the WWE's media division and began to pursue different types of media deals.
  • One big example: Last year, Khan helped land a $1 billion streaming deal with Peacock that made the NBCU-owned streaming service the exclusive home for its own streaming service, WWE Network.
  • Earlier this year, Khan admitted WWE had fielded calls from prospective buyers, though he added there were no active sale talks and that they were not actively looking for a buyer.

Yes, but: No deal happens without the blessing of Vince McMahon, 76.

  • McMahon owns 92% of the WWE’s Class B common stock, which has 10 votes for every share.
  • "As the majority shareholder, I will continue to support WWE in any way I can," he said in a statement Friday.

What's next: WWE will report its second-quarter earnings sometime next month.

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