The WWE is taking the next steps toward a multi-billion dollar sale.
The pro wrestling giant announced Thursday night it had retained The Raine Group LLC as financial advisor, Kirkland & Ellis LLP as legal advisor, and August LLC as strategic communications advisor.
The outside firms will help support WWE management and its reshuffled board of directors as they review “strategic alternatives” to maximize shareholder value, according to founder and executive chairman Vince McMahon.
Besides considering a sale, WWE is also entering high-stakes TV negotiations for its next cycle of media rights.
“WWE’s upcoming media rights cycle will take place amid a rapidly evolving media and entertainment landscape, and we believe exploring our strategic alternatives at this critical juncture will enable WWE to fully capitalize on the significant value of our intellectual property,” McMahon said in a statement.
“I am highly confident that our outstanding directors, outside advisors and executive team will provide valuable expertise and counsel to help guide the company through this important process while our management team and employee base continue to deliver results and content our fans love.”
The 77-year-old McMahon recently surprised Wall Street by returning to his family business after stepping away last summer due to a sex scandal. On Tuesday, Stephanie McMcMahon — who took over as chairwoman and co-CEO after her father’s departure in July — announced she would step down from those roles.
Nick Khan has taken over as WWE’s sole CEO, with McMahon as executive chairman. Khan, a former super-agent at CAA, will lead the promotion’s media negotiations.
“I’m grateful to Vince McMahon and our Board of Directors for their ongoing support,” Khan said in a statement on Tuesday. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with them and my WWE colleagues to ensure our company may thrive as the premiere powerhouse in sports entertainment for years to come.”
Front Office Sports previously reported Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has emerged as a potential bidder if the sports entertainment giant puts itself on the auction block. With $620 billion in assets, the sovereign fund already bankrolls the breakaway LIV Golf tour.
Other suitors could include:
- Comcast’s NBCUniversal Media and Fox Corp. already boast media rights deals for “Monday Night Raw” and “Friday Night Smackdown” respectively.
- Amazon: The company entered the U.S. sports business in a big way with a $1 billion-a-year deal to exclusively stream the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” through 2033.
- The Walt Disney Co: The Mouse struck a deal to bring Disney+ Hotstar streaming service to Indonesia.
- Endeavor: Had purchased a controlling stake in the UFC for $4 billion in 2016.
- Liberty Media: Acquired Formula One for $4.4 billion in 2016.
- Global talent agency CAA.
WWE currently has a market capitalization of $6.65 billion. The company’s stock closed at $89.34 on Thursday.