Endeavor has made its entrance on Wall Street.
Endeavor Group Holdings, home of UFC, WME and IMG, went public on Thursday with its listing on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol EDR. The stock’s first day of trading was a little bumpy but mostly stayed in positive territory. At the close, shares were up 5% to $25.20.
CEO Ari Emanuel was surrounded by Endeavor staffers Thursday morning as he rang the ceremonial bell to kick off the trading day. Endeavor’s goal is to raise between $511 million to more than $550 million. The company sold 21.3 million shares and has set aside another 3.2 million shares that will be up for grabs to the IPO underwriters for a 30-day period should demand be strong.
The $24 IPO price translates to a $10.6 billion valuation for the company. In early trading, shares shot up nearly 20% but settled down to around 7%-8% gain over the IPO price at around $26 at about 11:30 a.m. ET. It dipped below the $24 threshold briefly after noon ET but inched back in green territory shortly afterward.
Endeavor’s debut will demonstrate the level of investor appetite for an independent content- and event-driven conglomerate that is definitely still in growth mode. Endeavor recorded a net loss of $625 million in 2020 while its debt load stands at of $5.9 billion. By the estimate of the IPO research firm New Constructs, the company has plowed through more than $1 billion in free cash flow per year in recent years.
Endeavor has told Wall Street that it is in banking on the power of its relationship with talent and content creators to drive business across its disparate units, which are largely focused on content and live events. In tandem with the IPO process, Endeavor is in the process of raising about $1.7 billion in order to buy out the remaining 49% stake in UFC that it does not already own. Endeavor is banking big on a windfall of consumer spending on sports and live events again as pandemic conditions ease.
Endeavor’s IPO marks the first time that the parent company of a major Hollywood talent agency has been publicly traded since the 1980s when ICM was traded as part of then-owner Marvin Josephson’s larger business portfolio. But ICM eventually went private again through a $70 million management buyout in 1988.
Among those joining Emanuel in the bell-ringing session were Endeavor chairman Patrick Whitesell, Endeavor president Mark Shapiro, WME TV chief Rick Rosen, UFC boss Dana White and longtime Endeavor/WME communications chief Christian Muirhead.