IMG Worldwide to be acquired by Silver Lake Partners and William Morris Endeavor
Private investment firm Forstmann Little is to sell its ownership stake in sports, fashion and media business IMG Worldwide to Silver Lake Partners and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.
The transaction concludes a successful partnership between Forstmann Little and IMG, during which IMG grew into one of the world’s premier sports, entertainment and media companies with 3,500 employees in more than 30 countries around the world, and involved in an average of 11 sports and entertainment events every day.
“Today marks the successful culmination of the bold global strategy devised by Ted Forstmann for IMG over many years,” says Mark MacDougall, a partner of the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, speaking on behalf of Forstmann Little.
IMG traces its roots to 1960 when Cleveland lawyer Mark McCormack effectively founded the sports marketing industry by signing golf legend Arnold Palmer to his first representation contract. IMG was acquired in 2004 by Forstmann Little, the private equity firm led by the late Ted Forstmann. Until his death in November 2011, Forstmann served as chairman of the board and CEO of IMG.
In 2010, Forstmann negotiated the acquisition by IMG of ISP Sports. Founded in 1992 by another sports entrepreneur - Ben Sutton of Winston-Salem, North Carolina - ISP Sports contributed multimedia rights at an additional 64 colleges, conference, bowl and venue properties to the business of IMG College. Sutton also joined IMG as president of IMG College in 2010. Under the leadership of George Pyne, president of IMG Sports & Entertainment, IMG’s college business has become the centerpiece of the business model envisioned by Forstmann, with marketing rights to 90 universities and conferences, including two-thirds of the Bowl Championship Series schools and 49 of the 50 largest US markets.
Evercore and Morgan Stanley served as the financial advisors to Forstmann Little on the transaction.
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