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UFC owner plans IPO, buyout of remaining shares of Las Vegas company

The company that owns a majority of the UFC is planning for an initial public offering and also aiming to buy out the remaining shares of the mixed martial arts company, according to a regulatory filing.

Endeavor Group Holdings, which also owns talent agencies WME and IMG, the Professional Bull Riders rodeo circuit and the Miss Universe Pageant, outlined its IPO plan in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing dated March 31.

The filing did not list the pricing for the IPO, the second attempted by Endeavor. Two years ago, the Beverly Hills, California-based company announced plans to sell 15 million shares at $26-$27 but pulled its initial offering in September 2019.

Included in the filing is Endeavor’s plan to buy the remaining shares of UFC that it did not acquire in the purchase of the Las Vegas-based company in 2016. Endeavor, then known as WME-IMG, and a group of investors acquired the UFC for $4 billion from Zuffa LLC, founded by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta.

The face of the UFC, Dana White, who at the time was believed to have owned a 9 percent stake, continued in his role as president following the 2016 sale.

According to the SEC filing, Endeavor and UFC stakeholders agreed on Feb. 16 for Endeavor to purchase the remaining 49.9 percent of the UFC it did not acquire in 2016. The filing doesn’t give a value for the deal.

The UFC declined to comment on the potential buyout of the company. Representatives from Endeavor did not respond to the Review-Journal’s request for comment.

In the company’s filing, Endeavor’s CEO Ariel Emanuel noted its professional sports groups were among the first to return to competition early in the pandemic last year and cited their value to the company’s portfolio.

“As the global pandemic unfolded, we developed the protocols necessary to help our businesses safely restart operations, providing a model for other professional sports, events, and programs,” a letter from Emanuel included in the SEC filing said. “UFC and PBR were two of the first sports organizations to responsibly return last spring, and we followed in the summer by hosting the WNBA’s season at IMG Academy.”

IMG Academy is a Florida-based sports training facility that Endeavor owns.

The filing also highlighted that Endeavor would add Elon Musk to its board of directors. Musk who is CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and founder of the Boring Co. has extensive ties to Nevada.

Tesla has a massive factory in Northern Nevada where batteries and electric vehicle parts are manufactured and the first commercial tunnel for Boring’s underground transit system is set to debut this year at the Las Vegas Convention Center, with plans to eventually connect to Las Vegas Strip properties.

For 2020, Endeavor reported net loss of $625.3 million on revenue of $3.47 billion.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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