September 13, 2013 / 8:33 PM / 4 years ago

CORRECTED-KKR, New Mountain pursue joint bid for talent agency IMG -sources

(Corrects spelling of Forstmann in paragraphs three and four)

By Greg Roumeliotis and Soyoung Kim

Sept 13 (Reuters) - Private equity firm KKR & Co LP has teamed up with New Mountain Capital LLC to bid for IMG, joining a handful of companies interested in buying the sports, fashion and marketing agency from Forstmann Little & Co, two people familiar with the matter said.

KKR and New Mountain would be competing against other buyout firms in a quest for IMG, as well as entertainment powerhouses Creative Artists Agency and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, which have also been weighing offers for IMG, the people, who spoke to Reuters this week, said.

While KKR may not have the industry expertise of CAA or William Morris, its partner New Mountain has deep ties to private equity firm Forstmann Little.

Steven Klinsky, who founded New Mountain in 2000 shortly after leaving Forstmann Little, was the most senior partner at the firm outside of the Forstmann family and worked closely with Teddy Forstmann, IMG’s former chairman and chief executive who died in 2011.

The sale of IMG, whose clients include top tennis player Novak Djokovic and supermodel Gisele Bundchen and which owns the rights to numerous sports leagues, is being driven by the trustee that runs the estate of Teddy Forstmann.

CVC Capital Partners, another private equity firm that has significant expertise in sports rights management with its controlling investment in Formula One, is also involved in IMG’s sale process, people familiar with the matter have said previously.

Initial offers are due in the next few weeks, according to the people familiar with the matter.

The people asked not to be named because the matter is not public. KKR declined to comment, while New Mountain did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

IMG, which Forstmann bought for $750 million in 2004, could now fetch more than $2 billion in a sale, people familiar with the matter told Reuters previously.

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.

Notable 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.

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. The firm tried to exit its investment with 24 Hour Fitness last year but the process has since stalled.

Reporting by Soyoung Kim and Greg Roumeliotis; Editing by Leslie Adler

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