On Tuesday morning, Endeavor’s UFC enterprise merged with the WWE to create a brand new sports activities agency, TKO Group Holdings.
However whereas the brand new firm creates a fight sports activities and leisure powerhouse (managed by Endeavor and led by its management workforce), it additionally created a brand new, slimmed down Endeavor, an organization with its WME company enterprise entrance and heart.
Mark Shapiro, the president and COO of each Endeavor and TKO, says that was no mistake.
“Endeavor is sitting in a really pristine place,” Shapiro tells The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. “I imply, we’re on the epicenter of a big, cell, fast-growing market. You recognize, the TAM [total addressable market] for sports activities, leisure, music, reside occasions and premium experiences is over $500 billion. And we’re strolling into that world with a really robust steadiness sheet, flippantly levered, wholesome free money stream, a number of capital return initiatives already in place vis-à-vis our just lately introduced dividend and share buyback, and we’ve obtained a administration workforce that has nice expertise and an amazing monitor report of outperforming expectations. So we’re fairly assured in our place.”
As Shapiro notes, a aspect impact of the TKO spinout is a delevering occasion for the core Endeavor enterprise, a transfer that can make it simpler to ship on the dividend promise. However it additionally opens the door to extra M&A. Shapiro notes that with Endeavor controlling TKO, the money from the sports activities firm “has a possibility to stream as much as the mothership that’s Endeavor, which will probably be used for funding, extra sources, and potential tuck-in acquisitions, long run.”
When pressed on what the deal means for M&A, Shapiro says that, “TKO will all the time play within the sports activities area, and Endeavor will proceed to play within the total cultural area.”
Endeavor’s administration workforce can also be betting that shifting the UFC to TKO will assist with the valuation of Endeavor. Executives on the firm have made no secret of their pondering that the markets have been undervaluing the corporate, together with its expertise company WME, which is the most important driver of money at Endeavor.
Shapiro famous the latest gross sales of IMG Academy (for $1.25 billion to a non-public fairness agency) and Endeavor Content material ($775 million for an 80 % stake) which offered for multiples that ought to have given readability to Endeavor’s “intrinsic worth.”
Extra just lately, the sale of WME’s principal competitor CAA to French billionaire François-Henri Pinault for a reported $7 billion offered one other alternative to set a worth for the company enterprise.
“While you take a look at the Endeavor portfolio, [the CAA sale] displays favorably on WME’s personal valuation, which is simply part of our built-in portfolio,” Shapiro says, including that the corporate holds “quite a lot of best-in-class companies.”
“I feel it will clear up among the dislocation within the inventory value, which is the truth that there’s clearly a dislocation between the general public market worth and the intrinsic worth of our belongings,” he provides.