William Morris wins takeover bid for IMG -sources

December 17
11:05 PM 2013

Los Angeles-based William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC (WME) has won a bidding war for the huge sports and media talent agency IMG Worldwide.

New York Times, citing sources with direct knowledge of the matter, said that WME beat out two other groups with an offer of about $2.3 billion for IMG. The two companies intend to announce the acquisition on Wednesday. WME is backed by private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

According to the report, a combined IMG and WME would significantly alter the balance of power in Hollywood's business landscape. The deal would create a mega-agency that would leap ahead of its primary rival, Creative Artists Agency.

At the same time, the acquisition moves WME's center of gravity away from the increasingly troubled businesses of movies and television, where growth potential is limited. The merged group has an accompanying thrust into sports, media and fashion, NY Times said. 

The losing bidders were former News Corporation executive Peter Chernin and talent agency ICM Partners. Chernin was working with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, while ICM was working with the Carlyle Group. Both groups are believed to have offered less than $2 billion, the report said. 

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