UPDATE: World Wrestling Entertainment and UFC “have signed a definitive agreement” to form a new publicly traded company, the two companies announced Monday morning.
The announcement notes that Endeavor will hold a 51% controlling interest in the newly formed company. Existing WWE shareholders will hold a 49% interest.
The publicly traded company will be controlled by Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel. The deal values WWE at $9.3 billion, according to CNBC.
While the transaction would require WWE shareholder approval, that shouldn’t be a significant hurdle. WWE Executive Chairman Vince McMahon is the promotion’s largest shareholder and holds about 80% of WWE’s voting shares.
McMahon unexpectedly announced his retirement from WWE in July amid allegations he used the company’s money to suppress sexual misconduct and infidelity allegations.
McMahon, who returned in January, is expected to retain his executive chairman title. UFC President Dana White has remained in charge after Endeavor purchased a controlling interest in the leading MMA promotion for $4 billion in 2018.
“It seemed like since Vince left WWE over the summer and even before he came back, this was the inevitable outcome,“ LightShed Partners analyst Brandon Ross told Front Office Sports.
WWE CEO Nick Khan is slated to stay on as president of the wrestling side of the new company, while White will continue to run UFC.
Suitors like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund explored a purchase of WWE. Still, a source with knowledge of the process told FOS that Endeavor had been the favorite for several weeks.
Messages left with WWE and Endeavor were not immediately returned.