Much like the Road to WrestleMania, the Road to WWE Being Sold has been winding and full of surprises. As rumors began to heat up in regard to the company being sold off, the names of potential suitors ranged from NBC Universal to Tony Khan. Ultimately, Art Emanuel’s Endeavor garnered the winning bid and looks to close on its acquisition toward the end of this year.
A new prospectus filing, made available on WWE’s corporate website and broken down by Wrestlenomics, takes a look at the timeline of events leading to the decision that Endeavor will be the pro wrestling powerhouse’s new owner. According to the document, initial contact with about sixty counterparties began in January of this year regarding a possible transaction. Between early February and late March, twenty of those counterparties had signed confidentiality agreements.
One of those counterparties was Endeavor, whose mutual confidentiality agreement ensured both sides could conduct their due diligence on one another. At that time, Endeavor offered a non-binding proposal of 57% to 43% ownership as part of their possible acquisition. Following that, WWE requested non-binding indications of interest from eight of the interested counterparties, including Endeavor.
On March 1, Emanuel and fellow Endeavor executive, Mark Shapiro, met with Vince McMahon and Nick Khan to follow up on their merger proposal. A day later the board agreed to pursue other proposals while also engaging with Endeavor. Three of the other counterparties’ proposals looked to purchase WWE in its entirety and discussions were had about debt and equity financing to get a more concrete look at the proposals at a higher valuation.
After more negotiations, the WWE board revised Endeavor’s proposal to a 51% to 49% ownership stake. The WWE and Endeavor teams then met again before Endeavor sent back its own revised proposal, agreeing to the new ownership stake but adding the stipulation that McMahon would stay on as Executive Chairman until “death, resignation or incapacity.”
As these talks became serious, WWE was still speaking with another possible strategic partner that was still in play. The entity was given tickets to a WWE house show in Englewood, CO on March 26, which is near the headquarters for Liberty Media. So, take that for what it is worth.
Ultimately, Endeavor’s bid won out and final negotiations began on night one of WrestleMania 38 before being finished on night two. The news was officially announced the following Monday before Raw. Of course, I asked about the rumored acquisition during the night two media scrum and was given no comment by Paul Levesque and minimal comments by Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns.