KKR exits, private equity firms find partnerships for IMG bid

November 25
2:53 PM 2013

According to people who were familiar with the processes, the bidding war for talent agency IMG Worldwide Inc had seen buyout firms partnering up. The activity happened after KKR & Co LP decided to drop out of the auction that was projected to fetch over USD2 billion, the same sources added.

IMG represents mostly high-profile clients. Top tennis player Novak Djokovic and supermodel Gisele Bundchen are represented by IMG. IMG also owns rights to various sports leagues.

The sale of the talent agency was done in accordance by the trustee that runs Teddy Forstmann's estate. The trustee's private equity firm Forstmann Little & Co purchased IMG in 2004 for USD750 million.

After the departure of KKR from the auction last week, Silver Lake retained its partnership with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC, CVC Capital Partners Ltd with Chernin Group LLC, and Carlyle Group LP partnered with ICM Partners Inc. All partnerships are vying to acquire the talent agency, the sources said. According to a Reuters report, private equity firms that have forged or owned companies which had synergies with the companies they wish to acquire would have a favorable advantage in auctions as opposed to standalone buyout firms or buyout firms who do not have a strategy.

On Monday, the people who wished to remain anonymous as the details of the procedure were confidential said KKR initially pursued IMG after its failed joint bid talks with another buyout firm New Mountain Capital LLC.

The same sources disclosed that final bids were expected to be submitted by December. It was also unclear whether there is a third party who has no associations with private equity was involved in the auction process as a potential buyer.

When asked for comment by Reuters regarding the report, spokespeople for IMG, ICM and Silver Lake did not respond immediately to the news agency's request for a comment. William Morris, KKR, CVC, New Mountain and Chernin Group, on the other hand, refused to provide one regarding the report.

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