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WME To Acquire IMG

LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — William Morris Endeavor and their private equity partners Silver Lake Partners have reportedly placed the top offer to acquire sports and entertainment talent agency IMG.

According to the New York Times, WME had the winning bid, offering $2.3 billion for the agency, winning over two other competitors, ICM, backed by the Carlyle Group and a partnership between CVC Capital and former News Corp. exec Peter Chernin.

IMG, with a sports and fashion-centric client list is potentially a significant acquisition for WME, allowing them to expand their scope from their current focus on film, television and music talent.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that WME is hoping to realize significant savings through the elimination of redundancies through the combination of the two firms, to the tune of $50 million to $100 million. IMG generates earnings before interest, taxes and amortization (EBITDA) between $180 million and $190 million.

However, the acquisition may be subject to review by U.S. anti-trust regulators but will likely be approved due to the competitive nature of the field.

"At face value, it seems like they're really operating in different markets and there's a lot of competition here," Jamilla Ferris, formerly of the Justice Department and now at Hunton and Williams LLP told Reuters. "It seems fine to me but you never really know what the documents say."

IMG has been looking for a buyer since the 2011 death of Theodore J. Forstmann, founder of the private equity firm Forstmann Little, which acquired IMG in 2004 for $750 million. Forstmann Little announced in August that they were soliciting bids for the agency and said they were expecting to realize about $2 billion on the sale.

Other competitors for IMG included WME rivals CAA and their private equity partners TPG, but CAA pulled out of the bidding early, as did a number of private equity investors such as Bain Capital and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

An official announcement about the deal is expected on Wednesday. – Staff Writers