WME/IMG, Sequoia Capital China, Tencent Set Joint Venture Targeting Sports and Entertainment

UPDATED: WME/IMG is looking to grow its operations in China, setting a joint venture with Sequoia Capital China to help expand its activities in sports and entertainment.

The partnership is billed as an effort to “enhance and accelerate” WME/IMG’s growth in the world’s most populous country. China Internet giant Tencent and private equity firm FountainVest Partners are also participating in the investment, which was spearheaded by Sequoia Capital China. The size of the investments were not disclosed.

“WME/IMG has had a formidable foothold in China for a number of years,” said Neil Shen, founding and managing partner of Sequoia Capital China. “With the incredible growth they have been experiencing domestically, we saw this as a perfect opportunity to help them replicate that success in China within both sports and entertainment. This partnership is another example that Sequoia Capital China plays an instrumental role in helping leading Internet and media companies grow and expand in China.”

WME/IMG has a presence in China at present through its promotion of tennis and golf tournaments, fashion events and many other live events. It also has been growing its roster of China talent such as retired women’s tennis great Li Na and professional golfers ShanShan Feng, Xi Yu Lin, and Liang Wen-Chong. The company has also operated mass participation events like The Color Run and Tough Mudder and helped stage Shenzhen Fashion Week and other fashion events. It  negotiated media rights for the Chinese professional soccer organization known as the Super League.

The relationship with Tencent will undoubtedly help open doors for WME/IMG-backed initiatives.

“We believe there’s significant potential for WME | IMG’s impact in China,” said Tencent president Martin Lau. “Given our popular Internet platforms, as well as network of relationships within media and entertainment, we are presented with a unique opportunity to help them optimize their growth strategy in our home market.”

WME/IMG co-CEOS Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell billed the deal as another effort to grow the company that has been dramatically transformed by WME’s 2014 union with IMG. The firm has been on something of a deal making spree of late. In 2015, it acquired Professional Bull Riders and the Miss Universe Pageant. In conjunction with Turner, it former a joint venture for an online sports league, ELEAGUE.

“We have a deep history in China rooted in our sports business across areas as varied as events, media, representation and licensing,” said Emanuel and Whitesell. “Through Sequoia Capital China’s incredible effort in leading this consortium and creating this joint venture, we’re able to expand our business while embarking on new initiatives to create exciting opportunities for our clients and partners.”

James Rainey contributed to this story.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Leonardo Dicaprio Once Upon a Time

    Leonardo DiCaprio's Earth Alliance Commits $5 Million to Amazon Fires

    Earth Alliance, an environmental initiative backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, has committed $5 million toward the preservation of the Amazon rain forest following an alarming surge in wildfires. After launching Sunday, the organization’s emergency Amazon Forest Fund is working to support local partners and indigenous communities in their efforts to protect the sensitive habitats within the [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Weinstein Can Get a Fair Trial in Manhattan, Says D.A.

    The Manhattan District Attorney’s office argued on Friday that Harvey Weinstein can get a fair trial in Manhattan, and blamed the producer’s defense team for much of the pre-trial publicity in the case. Weinstein’s attorneys have asked an appellate court to transfer the case — which is set to begin on Sept. 9 — to [...]

  • Leonardo DiCaprio Madonna

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna Call for Action on Amazon Wildfires

    As wildfires rage at an alarming rate in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, celebrities are using their platforms to bring awareness to the deforestation’s impact and to call for action. In the past week, stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Madonna, Cara Delevingne and Ariana Grande have taken to Instagram to express their frustration with the lack of [...]

  • 'The Durrells' TV Show

    Greece Sweetens Production Incentives as Struggling Country's Economy Rebounds

    It’s taken the better part of a decade for Greece to show signs of recovery from the crippling crisis that almost pushed it out of the Eurozone. Now, with the economy slowly on the mend, the government is doubling down on efforts to jump-start the local film industry, giving a dramatic overhaul to the incentive [...]

  • Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group Partners With Audiomack

    Warner Music Group announced it has entered a partnership with the music streaming and discovery service Audiomack, marking the platform’s first licensing deal with a major label. According to the announcement, the two companies will work together on content concepts and explore ways to break emerging artists, connecting music fans with rising talent before they [...]

  • Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on

    Scooter Braun Congratulates Taylor Swift on ‘Brilliant’ Album and Campaign

    Two days after Taylor Swift fired off the latest salvo in her battle with Scooter Braun, the manager congratulated the singer on the campaign around her “brilliant” new album, “Lover,” which arrived last night. The message came after Swift said she will be re-recording songs from her first six albums, which are now owned by [...]

  • David Koch Obit

    David Koch, Libertarian Activist and Billionaire Philanthropist, Dies at 79

    David Koch, brother of Charles Koch and one of the owners of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the U.S., has died at 79. According to the New York Times, Charles Koch announced the news of his brother’s death in a statement. Though he did not attribute to David’s death to a particular cause, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content