The Hollywood agency and its financial cohort Silver Lake Partners have emerged from a pack of deep-pocketed suitors and are near a deal to acquire talent and management powerhouse IMG Worldwide. Deal figures have been murky during this entire bidding process, but we’re hearing the sale price is around $2 billion. A deal is imminent, we’re told, but no announcement is coming tonight. Other details: IMG, the powerhouse firm that reps athletes and models among several divisions, would function independently under the new structure, but its owners Forstmann Little would have have no equity stake.
If and when this one makes, it will enlarge agency powerhouse WME and put the latest feather in the caps of WME co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, who have been focused on big-picture growth since their Endeavor merged with William Morris in 2009. Since then they have expanded WME’s reach on several fronts including digital, culminating in May 2012 when WME and Silver Lake launched their strategic digital partnership, with the private equity firm acquiring a 31% non-controlling stake in the agency.
As expected, IMG and Forstmann Little today carried out the wishes of their late boss Tedd Forstmann by choosing his handpicked successors to lead the companies after his death. And, no, Michael Ovitz wasn’t mentioned:
NEW YORK, NY — IMG Worldwide, a leading global sports, fashion and media company, announced today that the shareholders of IMG have unanimously elected Michael Dolan Chairman of IMG and the IMG Board of Directors has unanimously elected him Chief Executive Officer, following the passing of IMG’s former Chairman and Chief Executive Ted Forstmann. Mr. Dolan joined IMG in early 2010 as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. In April 2011, Mr. Forstmann appointed Mike Dolan to President and Chief Operating Officer to lead day-to-day management of the company, and serve as Mr. Forstmann’s hand-picked successor to run the company following his death.
“Mike’s broad global experience and record of success makes him a clear choice to lead IMG forward,” said Julian Robertson, founder of the investment firm Tiger Management who was appointed this morning Chairman of Forstmann Little &Co. “Mike has the vision, experience, passion and leadership skills to ensure IMG’s continued growth and success.” Mr. Robertson has also been elected to the Board of Directors of IMG.
Following his election to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mike Dolan said, “Over the past two years we have developed a strategic plan for the company that is powerful and has already begun to produce significant sustainable results. We are committed to growing the business to maximize the value for our shareholders.” In addition, the Board of Directors of IMG said that it concurs that the maximum value of the company can best be achieved as a standalone company.
There will be no formal announcement because IMG desperately wants all the damaging talk to quiet down. So the unsavory Michael Ovitz situation was handled in private this week with a formal IMG letter removing him from owner Teddy Forstmann’s advisory board. (One insider tells me that three other board members who backed Ovitz’s alleged takeover attempt were removed as well. But I have no additional confirmation so won’t go into detail.) Thus ignobly ends yet another of Ovitz’s longest personal and professional relationships after he was accused of maneuvering to run and/or own the global management and production giant while 71-year-old Teddy battled brain cancer.