World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon is introduced during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller | Getty Images
Vince McMahon has returned to the World Wrestling Entertainment board of directors to facilitate potential sale talks ahead of the company’s media rights renewal.
The notion of WWE selling isn’t new. CNBC reported it looked like a sale target in April and that it appeared only more attractive in July after a sexual misconduct scandal. The rationale is fairly straightforward: WWE is valuable intellectual property.
Owning IP allows streaming services to exclusively offer content without the annoyance of winning licensing rights in an auction every few years. WWE also has value to offer in merchandising and theme park businesses.
WWE has hired JPMorgan to help the company advise on a potential sale, according to people familiar with the matter. JPMorgan declined to comment. A WWE spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
If a deal occurs, it would likely occur in the next three to six months, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. WWE plans to talk to potential buyers before it makes a decision on TV rights renewal agreements.
Facilitating a sale
McMahon’s return should help a sale process go smoothly, though there could still be hiccups.
The former CEO and chair is 77 years old and the controlling shareholder of WWE. He stepped down after an investigation found that he had paid nearly $15 million to four women over 16 years to quell claims of alleged sexual misconduct and infidelity. Returning to the board will give potential buyers confidence he’s supportive of the details of any transaction.
“My return will allow WWE, as well as any transaction counterparties, to engage in these processes knowing they will have the support of the controlling shareholder,” McMahon said in a statement Thursday.
McMahon’s return doesn’t affect current leadership. McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, and former CAA agent Nick Khan are co-CEOs. But it remains unclear what type of role, if any, McMahon would want at WWE if he sold the company. WWE has told investors that McMahon’s role at the company is essential in “our ability to create popular characters and creative storylines.” Currently, McMahon doesn’t have a formal say in the company’s creative direction.
Mansoor (bottom) competes with Mustafa Ali during the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Crown Jewel pay-per-view in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 21, 2021.
Fayez Nureldine | AFP | Getty Images
Whether a buyer would be comfortable with McMahon taking a more hands-on role at the company is unknown. But WWE is McMahon’s life work. It’s possible a sale may only happen with at least some strings attached.
WWE has a market capitalization of more than $6 billion after rising nearly 17% percent on Friday, buoyed by heightened sale speculation.
There are three categories of likely buyers for WWE — the legacy media companies, the streamers and the entertainment holding companies. Here’s who might be interested.
Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, is a potential fit as a buyer for WWE. McMahon’s company already has an exclusive streaming deal with Comcast’s streaming service, Peacock, and a cable TV deal with NBCUniversal’s USA Network. Comcast has a market capitalization of more than $160 billion and can easily afford the company — especially with a $9 billion (or more) check coming as soon as January 2024 from Disney for a 33% stake in Hulu.
Comcast can lock up WWE in perpetuity without having to pay upcoming rights renewal increases and can use the company’s IP for theme parks, movies and other spinoff series.
Still, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in October “the bar is the highest it’s been in terms of M&A” and has repeatedly said the company isn’t in a rush to pursue an acquisition.
Returning CEO Bob Iger may want to make a splashy acquisition as he retakes the throne at Disney. WWE fits Disney in the same ways that it fits Comcast. It would bolster Disney’s streaming ambitions (perhaps ESPN+), it would support the linear network business, and it would add some heft to merchandizing and theme park businesses.
Comcast didn’t want Disney walking away with Fox in 2019 and drove up the price by tens of billions by topping Iger’s initial bid. Could Iger see WWE as the next IP battle between Disney and his rival Comcast?
Disney CEO, Bob Iger attends the European film premiere of ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ at Cineworld Leicester Square on 18 December, 2019 in London, England.
Wiktor Szymanowicz | Future Publishing | Getty Images
Warner Bros. Discovery
Netflix has long shied away from sports and other live events, but it’s recently become open to the idea of owning a league outright or taking an ownership stake. Owning a sports league would give Netflix the ability to create video games and spinoff series without friction. Netflix found success in its Formula 1 “Drive to Survive” documentary series, giving co-CEO Reed Hastings faith that certain sports properties will resonate with Netflix’s huge global audience. But Netflix doesn’t own Formula 1, limiting its future options.
Acquiring WWE or another sports league would be a path toward offering live entertainment without renting content — similar to Zaslav’s thinking.
“We’ve not seen a profit path to renting big sports,” said co-CEO Ted Sarandos last month at the UBS Global TMT Conference. “We’re not anti-sports; we’re just pro-profit.”
Endeavor Group Holdings
Emanuel bought UFC to increase the scope of the talent agency’s business to live events. WME-IMG, now just a part of Endeavor, represents many UFC athletes — as well as WWE superstars. The UFC deal has been a success for Endeavor, which paid about seven times 2016’s $600 million revenue in 2016. UFC generated more than $1 billion in revenue in 2022.
Ari Emanuel speaks onstage during the 2017 LACMA Art + Film Gala Honoring Mark Bradford and George Lucas presented by Gucci at LACMA on November 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Stefanie Keenan | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
Endeavor’s enterprise value of just about $11 billion makes WWE a huge swing for the company. The company’s relatively small balance sheet would likely prevent Endeavor from winning a bidding war against media giants. But McMahon’s outsized personality may fit with the brash Emanuel and UFC President Dana White.
Selling to a third party would also allow WWE to increase rights renewals every few years. That may or may not be a positive for the long-term future of the company as the media distribution ecosystem changes.
While Endeavor owns UFC, Liberty’s Formula One Group owns Formula 1. John Malone, Liberty’s controlling shareholder, and CEO Greg Maffei, along with Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, have figured out how to globally market the car racing league, including cracking American culture after decades of obscurity.
Malone and Maffei have extensive track records at maximizing media valuations and acquiring media assets for less than $10 billion, including Formula 1, Sirius XM and Pandora. The global success of Formula 1 could provide a roadmap for a future WWE strategy.
Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.
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From Cartel to Evangelist: The Inspiring Journey of Juan Reyes, Puerto Rico’s Entrepreneur and Author
In the realm of entrepreneurship, few stories are as captivating and inspiring as that of Juan Reyes, a self-made entrepreneur and author hailing from Juncos, Puerto Rico. Despite being born into a low-income family, Reyes defied the odds and carved his path to success through sheer determination, hard work, and an unwavering commitment to his goals. From establishing thriving businesses to becoming a renowned author, Reyes’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the indomitable spirit of an individual driven by faith and dedication.
A Journey Born out of Necessity
Growing up in Juncos, Puerto Rico, Juan Reyes faced significant challenges stemming from his family’s financial limitations. To support himself and contribute to his family’s well-being, Reyes began working from a young age. However, he never allowed his circumstances to dampen his dreams or extinguish his ambition. Determined to change his destiny, Reyes embarked on a path that would not only uplift his own life but also inspire countless others.
A Multifaceted Entrepreneur
Reyes’s entrepreneurial acumen led him to establish several successful ventures that have made a profound impact. Among his notable accomplishments are King of Credit Repair LLC, KCL Clothing Inc, and Shalom Renovation LLC. These enterprises not only generated substantial revenue but also provided employment opportunities for others. Reyes’s astute understanding of business markets, coupled with his expertise in real estate, notary services, modeling, and preaching, contributed to his ability to transform businesses from scratch into multi-million dollar ventures.
Authorship and Beyond
In addition to his entrepreneurial pursuits, Juan Reyes is also a respected author. His debut book, “From the Cartel to the Evangelist,” has garnered significant attention and acclaim. This captivating literary work chronicles Reyes’s personal journey, from overcoming adversity to finding redemption and purpose through his faith. The book serves as a testament to Reyes’s resilience and unwavering determination, inspiring readers to believe in their own potential and navigate their own paths to success.
Sponsored by Christian Faith Publishing
Reyes’s literary endeavors have received a significant boost through the sponsorship of Christian Faith Publishing. This collaboration has allowed Reyes to reach a wider audience with his powerful message of transformation, faith, and the pursuit of entrepreneurship. The partnership between Reyes and Christian Faith Publishing (visit the website here) has opened doors for him to inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs and individuals seeking personal growth.
Recognizing the significance of his own journey, Juan Reyes has made it his mission to give back to society and uplift others. Through speaking engagements and mentoring programs, Reyes shares his knowledge, unique ideas, and experiences with business leaders and young individuals alike. His teachings have become a beacon of hope for those who have faced similar challenges and made similar mistakes, demonstrating that even a fallen business can rise to great heights.
The Pride of Juncos, Puerto Rico
Juan Reyes remains deeply connected to his roots in Juncos, Puerto Rico. His success story has not only become a source of pride for the local community but also an inspiration for the youth in the neighborhood. Reyes’s achievements serve as a testament to the transformative power of entrepreneurship, instilling hope and motivating aspiring entrepreneurs to strive for greatness despite their circumstances.
Juan Reyes’s journey from a humble upbringing in Juncos, Puerto Rico, to becoming a renowned entrepreneur and author is a testament to the triumph of resilience, determination, and faith. Through his businesses, writing, and mentorship, Reyes exemplifies the boundless potential that lies within every individual. He reminds us that with unwavering dedication and a strong belief in oneself, anyone can rise above adversity and create a life of purpose and success. Juan Reyes is an inspiration, not only to entrepreneurs but to all those who dare to dream big and overcome the odds.
Disney CEO Bob Iger rips Ron DeSantis over ‘anti-Florida’ retaliation
Bob Iger, CEO, Disney, during CNBC interview, Feb. 9, 2023.
Randy Shropshire | CNBC
Bob Iger on Monday called Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ actions against The Walt Disney Co. retaliatory, “anti-business” and “anti-Florida.”
The feud between DeSantis and the company escalated earlier Monday, when the governor asked the state’s inspector general to determine whether the House of Mouse’s sly move to retain control over the outer limits of Orange and Osceola counties is legal – and whether any of the company’s executives were involved in the scheme.
During the company’s annual shareholder meeting Monday, Disney CEO Iger addressed investor inquiries about the ongoing dispute between the company and Florida legislators. He noted that Disney has more than 75,000 employees in the state, and has created thousands of indirect jobs, as well as brings around 50 million visitors to Florida every year and is the state’s largest taxpayer
“A year ago, the company took a position on pending Florida legislation,” Iger said, apparently referring to what critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. “And while the company may have not handled the position that it took very well, a company has a right to freedom of speech just like individuals do.”
He added: “The governor got very angry about the position Disney took and seems like he’s decided to retaliate against us, including the naming of a new board to oversee the property and the business. In effect, to seek to punish a company for its exercise of a constitutional right. And that just seems really wrong to me.”
Iger said Disney plans to spend more than $17 billion in investments at Walt Disney World over the next decade, which would create around 13,000 jobs at the company and generate even more taxes for Florida.
“Our point on this is that any action that supports those efforts simply to retaliate for a position the company took sounds not just anti-business, but it sounds anti-Florida,” he said. “And I’ll just leave it at that.”
Last week, DeSantis’ newly appointed board of the Reedy Creek district, now named the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, revealed that the previous Disney-allied board signed a long-lasting agreement that drastically limits the control that can be exercised over the company and its district.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during ‘The Florida Blueprint’ event on Long Island, New York, United States on April 1, 2023. Ron DeSantis made comments on the Grand Jury’s indictment of Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States in Manhattan, New York.
Kyle Mazza | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
The agreement was signed on Feb. 8, the day before the Florida House voted to put DeSantis in charge. DeSantis replaced all of the Disney-allied board members with five Republicans on Feb. 27. It was only then that Disney’s new binding agreement was discovered.
The agreement includes a clause that dates back to 1692 in Britain. The “Declaration shall continue in effect until 21 years after the death of the last survivor of the descendants of King Charles III, King of England, living as of the date of this declaration,” the document said.
The governor’s letter calls the board’s agreement an attempt to “usurp the authority of the CFTOD board” and “nullify the recently passed legislation, undercut Florida’s legislative process, and defy the will of Floridians.”
He said at the agreement also has “legal infirmities” including inadequate notice, improper delegation of authority and ethical violations.
Disney, however, has said that all of the board’s maneuvers were completely legal — the agreement was discussed and approved in open, noticed public forums, in compliance with Florida’s Sunshine law.
The development in DeSantis’ conflict with Disney marks just the latest move in one of several partisan battles being waged by the Republican governor.
DeSantis is widely believed to be laying the groundwork to launch a 2024 presidential campaign. That move is expected to come not long after the current Florida legislative session ends in early May. Polls show that DeSantis is the most competitive of the potential opponents for former President Donald Trump in a GOP primary.
The Florida governor took aim at Disney after the company publicly balked at Florida’s HB 1557 law early last year. HB 1557, which critics called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, limits early education teachings on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Republican state Rep. Randy Fine told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last April that the bill dissolving Reedy Creek wasn’t retaliatory, but then said “when Disney kicked the hornet’s nest, we looked at special districts.”
Until recently, there had been no major public discussion about dissolving Disney’s long-established special district, which it’s occupied for 55 years, leading DeSantis’ critics to question its timing and the speed at which the governor acted against the company.
The fight between DeSantis and Disney shows no signs of slowing down. During a book tour stop in Georgia last week, DeSantis told attendees “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
WWE near deal to be sold to UFC parent Endeavor, sources say
World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon appears in the ring during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller | Getty Images
A deal could be announced as soon as Monday. UFC and WWE are expected to form a new publicly traded company as part of the agreement, according to the people, who declined to be named due to the confidential nature of the discussions.
Endeavor is slated to own 51% of the new combat sports and entertainment company, while WWE shareholders would get 49%, according to the people. The Endeavor deal gives WWE an enterprise value of $9.3 billion, they said.
Emanuel is expected to act as chief executive of both Endeavor and the new company. McMahon, likewise, is expected to be executive chairman, while Endeavor President Mark Shapiro will also work in the same role at the new company. Dana White will remain as president of UFC, while WWE CEO Nick Khan will serve as president of the wrestling business.
The development comes during the same weekend WWE hosts its flagship live event, WrestleMania, in California. The company has spent the past several months looking for a buyer. McMahon returned to the company as chairman in January to oversee the process. Shares of WWE are up more than 33% so far this year, giving it a market value of more than $6.79 billion.
The deal will effectively end WWE’s decades-old status as a family-run business. McMahon’s father founded WWE in its original incarnation during the middle of the 20th century, and McMahon is the controlling shareholder in the company. McMahon bought the company from his father in 1982. Since then, the company has grown into a global phenomenon, spawing stars suck as Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista and John Cena.
McMahon, 77, retired from the company in July following a string of revelations that he paid several women millions of dollars over the years to keep them quiet about alleged affairs and misconduct. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, became co-CEO alongside Khan. Paul Levesque, who’s both Stephanie McMahon’s husband and the wrestler known as Triple H, took over creative duties from Vince McMahon.
When Vince McMahon came back in January, Stephanie McMahon stepped down and Khan fully assumed the CEO role. The elder McMahon recently locked in a two-year employment contract, according to a securities filing.
Khan in recent weeks has been making the media rounds to discuss the potential sale. He told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan on Thursday that it’s been a robust sale process, drawing many interested buyers.
WWE brings with it a robust media and live events business, along with its decades worth of intellectual property. The company generated $1.29 billion in revenue last year, driven mainly by its $1 billion media unit.
UFC has paid off for Endeavor. Last year, the MMA league helped Endeavor’s sports business make $1.3 billion in revenue. Endeavor’s market cap stood at about $10.53 billion as of Friday’s close. The Endeavor-WWE deal values UFC at more than $12 billion.
WWE, at least at a glance, would also fit well with the cultures at Endeavor and UFC. McMahon has a brash public persona, making him an apparently good match for Emanuel and White, who are also known for their outsized personalities.
White, like McMahon, is no stranger to scandal, either. Earlier this year, video emerged showing the UFC boss slapping his wife during a public argument at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico. White apologized.
Disclosure: Peacock, the streaming service owned by CNBC parent NBCUniversal, carries WWE events such as WrestleMania.
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