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POWER PLAY: It looks like talent agency William Morris Endeavor, backed by Silver Lake Partners, could be victorious in its quest for IMG Worldwide, the global sports, fashion and media business. According to published reports, WME had the winning bid in the neighborhood of $2.3 billion for the sports and fashion agency, and a deal could be announced as soon as today. Others in the final round of bidding were CVC Capital Partners and ICM Partners.
Representatives for Forstmann Little & Co., which owns IMG, and Silver Lake declined comment.
Forstmann Little acquired IMG for $750 million in 2004 and expanded the scope of its services. Among IMG’s businesses are IMG Fashion, which owns and operates fashion events around the world, including Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week; IMG Models; IMG College, handling collegiate marketing, licensing and media rights; IMG Media, an independent producer and distributor of sports programming, and IMG Events and Federations, which owns and manages events with international sports organizations, leagues and federations. IMG also owns Art + Commerce, which represents photographers, art directors and stylists.
The sale of IMG has been speculated since the death of Theodore J. Forstmann, Forstmann Little’s founder, in 2011. IMG started preparing for its sale last year and last May hired Morgan Stanley and Evercore to find a suitable buyer for the agency.
WME, which has offices in Beverly Hills, New York, London, Miami and Nashville, was founded in 2009 following the merger of William Morris Agency and the Endeavor Agency. WME represents artists in such industries as movies, TV, music, theater, digital and publishing. An IMG acquisition would give WME a significant international foothold in the sports, fashion and entertainment industries.