Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, said Monday that the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey was “very concerning,” but would not comment on whether it would cause him to reconsider Saudi Arabia’s investment in his company.
Emanuel, speaking at the Mipcom content market in Cannes, where he received the Variety Vanguard Award, said: “Here’s what I will say about it. I personally am really concerned about it. We are concerned about it. But all I can say is that we are monitoring the situation. And that’s legally all I can say right now. It is very, very concerning. Really concerning.”
Pressed further, he added: “On the face of it it’s upsetting. And we are monitoring the situation right now. That is all I am able and will say right now.”
[UPDATE: Later on Monday, reports in Los Angeles suggested that Endeavor is exploring the possibility of backing out of its $400 million deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund.]
Emanuel also spoke at Mipcom about the need for company leaders to have “emotional endurance” when dealing with big shifts and shocks to the business such as Rupert Murdoch’s sale of Fox and the Saudi crisis. “These are big jolts into the system and if you are not able to have emotional endurance to handle those things – because they are going to come up, at every level of the company – you are not going to be successful,” Emanuel said.
He added: “Hopefully the management [of Endeavor] is showing – in every aspect of the business – that they have it. They are curious, they are willing to take risks, they will hang in there with you. Over time it does seep into the culture, the blood supply of the company, and I think that is what we have done from the leadership of the company at the top all the way down.”
Emanuel was asked by Variety‘s managing editor, TV, Cynthia Littleton, as part of an onstage interview after the Mipcom awards ceremony, whether the company’s continued growth and diversification would lead to an IPO. “We are constantly evaluating what we should and shouldn’t do. Right now raising money has not been a problem because we have had great returns, even though a bunch of my competitors think we constantly overspend. We’ll make a decision. I’m not in any rush to do one thing or another,” he said.
“I think we have got the best partner in the world in [private equity firm] Silver Lake and we have got a lot of good advisers. I’ve no idea. We’ll see what the marketplace offers, and if we need to raise money because there is an acquisition we’ll raise the money and then we will make a decision, and when it is right, it is right.”