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By Ronald Grover and Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Steve Bornstein, the National Football League's top media executive and a one-time ESPN chairman, is playing a behind-the-scenes role in the auction of sports agency IMG by advising a bidders group headed by British money management firm CVC Capital Partners.
If the group is successful, Bornstein would be a top candidate to become chairman of the fabled sports, fashion and marketing agency, according to two people with knowledge of the bids.
IMG, set up by American sports agent Mark McCormack in 1960, is up for sale after the death in 2011 of owner Teddy Forstmann, who paid $750 million for the business in 2004. IMG, whose clients include top tennis player Novak Djokovic and supermodel Gisele Bundchen, could fetch more than $2 billion in a sale, sources have told Reuters.
Bornstein, who is the president and CEO of the pro football league's NFL Network cable channel and negotiates the league's multi-billion dollar TV deals, confirmed to Reuters in an interview in October that he intended to leave the football league in the spring but would not say what he intended to do next.
An NFL spokesman, Alex Riethmiller, said Bornstein declined to comment for this article.
CVC is one of four bidder groups who advanced to the second round of bidding earlier this month, according to people familiar with the matter. CVC, which also owns the Formula One car racing championship, is allied with former News Corp president Peter Chernin, one person said.
Representatives for CVC and Chernin had no comment.
The other bidders include the William Morris Endeavor Entertainment talent agency, joined by private equity fund Silver Lake; private equity firm KKR teamed with New Mountain Capital LLC; and private equity firm Carlyle Group.
Bornstein joined ESPN in 1980, rising through the sports channel's ranks to become its youngest president and CEO, at age 38 in 1990. He later become ESPN chairman and was also president of ABC. (Additional reporting Gregory Roumeliotis, SoYoung Kim, and Nicola Leske; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer and Andrew Hay)