| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Nov 25 The buyout firms bidding for
talent agency IMG Worldwide Inc have all secured partnerships
with other companies in the sector after KKR & Co LP
exited an auction seen fetching more than $2 billion, according
to people familiar with the matter.
KKR withdrew last week, leaving Silver Lake in partnership
with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC, CVC Capital
Partners Ltd in partnership with Chernin Group LLC and Carlyle
Group LP in partnership with ICM Partners Inc as the
private equity-backed groups in the race, the people said.
Private equity firms that own or partner with companies that
have synergies with the companies they want to acquire have an
advantage in auctions over buyout firms without a strategic
KKR was pursuing IMG alone after another buyout firm, New
Mountain Capital LLC, dropped discussions about a potential
joint bid, the people said on Monday on condition of anonymity
because details of the auction are confidential.
Final bids for IMG, whose clients include top tennis player
Novak Djokovic and supermodel Gisele Bundchen and which owns the
rights to numerous sports leagues, are expected by December, the
It remains unclear if another party, not associated with
private equity, is still involved in the process as a suitor.
Spokespeople for IMG, ICM and Silver Lake did not
immediately respond to a request for comment while William
Morris, KKR, CVC, New Mountain and Chernin Group declined to
The sale of IMG is being driven by the trustee that runs the
estate of Teddy Forstmann. His private equity firm, Forstmann
Little & Co, acquired IMG for $750 million in 2004.
Forstmann Little has held onto IMG for longer than a typical
investment period for private equity, and for years it has
rebuffed overtures from prospective buyers. Buyout interest
increased following Teddy Forstmann's departure in April 2011 as
IMG chairman and CEO, and his death later that year.
Buyers that had approached Teddy Forstmann included former
Yahoo CEO Terry Semel, who was willing to pay $1.5 billion in
2008. Sources told Reuters at the time that Teddy Forstmann
wanted at least twice the amount.
Last month, advertising agency WPP Plc CEO Martin
Sorrell described IMG as an asset he would love to own but said
his company cannot afford it, as a frothy auction process pushed
valuation towards the $2.5 billion mark.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld litigation partner Mark
MacDougall and corporate practice co-chair J. Kenneth Menges,
Jr., are managing the wind down of Teddy Forstmann's private
equity empire. Forstmann Little tried to sell 24 Hour Fitness
last year but the process has since stalled.
Sports Business Daily first reported on Friday that KKR had
withdrawn its bid for IMG.