A source close to the situation said the four contenders making to the second-round process are WME with backing from its equity investor Silver Lake; private equity giant Carlyle Group with counsel from ICM Partners; KKR; and Chernin Group in partnership with Euro investment firm CVC Capital Partners.
The Russian conglom Gazprom, which is active in sports sponsorship and owns a Russian soccer team based in St. Petersburg, is also believed to be a possible second-round contender.
A rep for IMG could not immediately be reached for comment late Monday.
IMG is expected to fetch around $2.5 billion. There has been much speculation about CAA’s interest in the agency as a complement to the substantial domestic sports representation business it has established during the past decade.
Even more than talent representation, IMG is active in the sports marketing and event production biz in the U.S. and abroad, businesses that would greatly diversify the business operations of any of the Hollywood percenteries looking at the company. It was unclear exactly why CAA and its pre-existing equity partner TPG were not advancing to the next round in the sale process. A rep for CAA declined comment.
Industry sources have said IMG’s owners are aiming to strike a deal by year’s end, which others have described as an unrealistic timetable given the fast approach of the holiday season.
Morgan Stanley and Evercore Partners are handling the sale for IMG parent Forstmann Little and a core group of insiders with significant equity stakes.