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Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company’s Origin Story

After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its IPO pricing of shares would land between $30 and $32. The stock will trade under the ticker symbol EDR.

Endeavor chiefs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell tell the Endeavor origin and growth story in a new 31-minute video designed to drum up support among investors for the IPO.

The video also features Endeavor president Mark Shapiro, chief marketing officer Bozoma Saint John, human resources chief Kerry Chandler and chief financial officer Jason Lublin. The parent company of WME, IMG, UFC and other assets is planning the first IPO involving a talent agency in more than 40 years.

Endeavor executives emphasize the company’s growth potential and its continued appetite for M&A activity as drivers for the IPO.

“We’re going public to be more nimble and responsive for our clients and for us, and to give us capital and currency for M&A, which has and will continue to be central to our strategy,” Lublin says.

Endeavor’s expansion into content production and distribution operations — a source of friction for the company amid the current battle between the WGA and major talent agencies — was spurred by concerns that industry consolidation would eventually hurt the creative community, Whitesell says.

“We saw this disruption happening. Premium content was going to be more important than ever and that distribution was going to be commoditized,” says Whitesell, executive chairman of Endeavor. “If we could build a company to navigate all of that, we’d be in a position to help ourselves and our clients make more money than ever before.”

Emanuel, Endeavor’s CEO, details the epiphany he had to launch Endeavor as a talent agency after he was hit by a flat-bed truck while crossing the street after a client meeting in 1993, when he was working as a talent agent at ICM. Eighteen months later, in March 1995, Emanuel and three other ICM agents left and Endeavor was born.

“I wiggled my fingers and I wiggled my toes and realized I wasn’t paralyzed,” Emanuel says. He recalled thinking in that scary moment: “Life is not a dress rehearsal. It could end quickly. You’d better get started,” he says. 

Whitesell discusses his path to becoming a talent agent that began in his small-town home in Iowa and his love of movies. Whitesell met Emanuel in his first day on the job in the mailroom of InterTalent Agency, where Emanuel was a junior agent. Whitesell eventually moved on to CAA. After Endeavor launched, Emanuel called Whitesell every day at around 6:30 a.m. until he persuaded him to join Endeavor in early 2001.

Shapiro also tells a colorful story of his first meeting with Emanuel, which came on a long flight when Shapiro was heading content for ESPN. After Emanuel saw Shapiro typing away on his computer for three hours straight, he ordered the man sitting next to Shapiro to move to another seat so that Emanuel could question Shapiro about what he was doing.

Lublin touts Endeavor’s revenue and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes and amortization growth since 2016. Endeavor’s financial disclosures earlier this year generated mixed reviews from Wall Street as the company deals with the impact of a string of acquisitions. In the video, Lublin emphasizes the company’s 24% compound annual growth rate for revenue since 2016, hitting $3.6 billion in 2018. Adjusted EBITDA growth over the same period is also 24% to $551 million last year.

For the first half of 2019, Lublin cites more than $2 billion in revenue, up 36% over the year-ago period, and 21% year-over-year growth in adjusted EBITDA to $250 million.

The video details Endeavor’s breadth and depth with well-established assets including UFC and IMG and startup ventures such as Endeavor Audio and an online education initiative. Endeavor’s link to talent relationships via WME and IMG gives the company a competitive edge, or as Emanuel describes it: “A bird’s eye view on a global basis to know what’s out there.”

Saint John, who joined Endeavor last year after stints at Uber and Apple, said she was drawn to the company in part because of its culture of risk-taking. The company’s 7,000 employees are “empowered with the ability to try new things,” she says. “If you fail, that’s OK, just hurry up and get to the next thing.”

Toward the end of the video, Emanuel displays his trademark bravado in sizing up his competition in the various sectors where Endeavor is active: entertainment, sports, fashion, marketing, advertising and content sales. Because Endeavor’s operations encompass so many different areas of media and entertainment, he warns his competitors: “I’m way out in front of you by miles and miles.”

(Pictured: Endeavor’s Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel)

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