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Endeavor IPO to Take Place Later Than Expected

Endeavor Group Holdings’ initial public offering will take place later than expected.

The IPO for the talent agency and entertainment giant will not occur until September at the earliest, people familiar with the situation confirmed to Variety on Friday. Endeavor, which was formed in 2009 by the merger of William Morris Agency and Endeavor Talent Agency, filed for an initial public offering in May and was expected to launch the IPO during the summer.

Variety has confirmed that, before launching the IPO, the company plans to buy Location Experiences LLC for up to $700 million and plans to point to second-quarter results and renegotiated contracts for soccer events with the goal of increasing market valuation. The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Endeavor also owns the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Miss Universe. The Writers Guild of America West has issued a pair of investor alerts on the IPO and accused Endeavor of widespread potential conflicts of interest, alleging that the new public company’s corporate governance structure dramatically favors company insiders including top executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell. Endeavor’s structure also includes “poison pills” designed to give company insiders indefinite control, the alert warned.

The alert referenced the current stalemate between the WGA and WME. The WGA called off negotiations with the Association of Talent Agents on June 21 in favor of pursuing individual talks with nine top agencies as it enforces a total ban on packaging fees and affiliated production for agents representing guild members. No new talks have been scheduled.

The WGA issued a statement on Friday afternoon that again blasted the IPO, noting that 1,400 of its members fired their WME agents in April when the guild leadership required agencies to sign a new Code of Conduct in order to represent its members.

“The Endeavor IPO poses an untenable contradiction,” the guild said. “One way the company proposes to maximize shareholder results is through conflicted business practices. This has already led to a rebellion of 1400 WGA-represented writers who have left the WME talent agency. The IPO is offering investors a business saddled with conflicts of interest and risks, from extreme leverage to an unaccountable governance structure to potential legal liability for antitrust violations and fiduciary breaches.”

 

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