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Forstmann Little & Co narrows bidders to five for talent agency- sources

November 11
8:04 PM 2013

Sources told Bloomberg that Forstmann Little & Co had narrowed down the number of bidders for IMG Worldwide Inc to five. From 12 bidders, the New York-based private equity firm cut down the bids after the deadline passed on November 7. People with knowledge of the situation said Forstmann Little & Co had already removed the joint bid of TPG Capital and Creative Artists Agency from the list. The remaining bidders still contending for the talent agency included Silver Lake Management and partner William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, CVC Capital Partners, KKR & Co and Carlyle Group.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information is private, said the deal could reach USD over USD 2.5 billion. Peyton Manning and Taylor Swift are among the talents represented by IMG Worldwide. The agency also handles sports and fashion events.

TPG Capital and Creative Artists were viewed as front runners for the talent agency. Now that they are out of the game, Bloomberg reported that Silver Lake and partner William Morris Endeavor Entertainment would be going head-to-head against Formula One-owner CVC Capital Partners.

One of the people told Bloomberg that the bidders were lured by the agency's college sports team licensing unit. However, two people revealed that joint ventures undertaken in China, India, Brazil and Turkey had brought down bid prices since these had lost money.

According to Forstmann Little, IMG Worlwide had posted annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization or EBITDA of USD 200 million. However, the two people told Bloomberg that the figure was brought down to USD 181 million because of adjustments in the agency's operations abroad.

One of the sources said the private equity company wanted to complete the deal by the end of 2013. They added that Forstmann Little had hired Evercore Partners Inc and Morgan Stanley to advise on the possible sale.

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