UFC-owner Endeavor revives IPO plans, names Musk to board

(Reuters) -Endeavor Group Holdings Inc, owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), revived it plans to go public after a botched attempt in 2019 and named Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk to its board.

FILE PHOTO: SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during a conversation at the E3 gaming convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

The company, which is backed by Hollywood power broker Ari Emanuel, said on Wednesday that Musk was a director nominee and would become a board member either at the time of or prior to the pricing of its shares.

Endeavor’s move to revive its flotation comes as it looks to tap into a red-hot U.S. IPO market, hoping for a warmer reception than the one it received in 2019, when weak investor demand forced the company to abandon its $400-million share sale a day before it was due to debut.

Endeavor runs a wide range of businesses, including talent agency WME, and some of it high-profile clients are actors Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Mark Wahlberg, as well as tennis superstars Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

In a regulatory filing, Endeavor disclosed that it had agreed to take full ownership of the parent company of the UFC. As of Dec. 31, the company’s long-term debt stood at roughly $5.9 billion, driven up largely by a string of acquisitions.

The company posted revenue of $3.48 billion and a net loss of $625.3 million for the year ended Dec. 31, compared with revenue of $4.57 billion and a loss of $530.7 million in the year-earlier period. Its business took a big hit from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Endeavor also said several existing and new shareholders had agreed to buy shares as part of a private placement that would raise proceeds of about $1.77 billion.

Endeavor filed for an IPO of up to $100 million, according to the filing, although that amount is a placeholder and is expected to change when the company reveals the terms of the offering.

The company plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “EDR”.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, KKR and Deutsche Bank Securities are the lead underwriters for the offering. Goldman Sachs was the lead bank when Endeavor attempted to go public in 2019.

Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar and Anirban Sen in Bengaluru and Joshua Franklin in New York; Editing by Anil D’Silva