WME-IMG has received a $250 million investment from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, TheWrap has learned.
“We’re thrilled to welcome industry leader SoftBank to WME-IMG,” said Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, the agency’s CEOs. “SoftBank brings a unique industry perspective and a commitment to help us deliver valuable new opportunities to our clients and partners in markets around the world.”
SoftBank will join existing partner Silver Lake, WME-IMG’s current strategic investor, in its partnership with the Hollywood firm. Silver Lake came on to be WME’s strategic partner in 2012. The deal now values WME-IMG at an estimated $5.5 billion.
The investment from SoftBank will be used for more acquisitions, joint ventures and new partnerships and will act as a way to exacerbate the company’s growth.
SoftBank Group is a mobile communications, media and internet services company which also has stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan, as well as Snapdeal, Coupang and Tokopedia.
“Ari, Patrick and the rest of WME-IMG’s talented management team have a strong record of performance and transformation at the intersection of entertainment, sports and fashion,” said SoftBank Director Ron Fisher, who managed the investment process. “We look forward to supporting WME-IMG as it advances the next phase of its growth, further developing and driving its client and content offerings.”
According to a release, WME-IMG produces over 52,000 hours of sports programming and owns, operates or represents more than 800 events, two-thirds of which are sports. WME-IMG also curates culinary and cultural events including Taste Festivals, and is a leading company in model management and talent discovery. It operates in more than 25 countries and specializes in talent representation and management, media production, sales and distribution.
In 2015, WME-IMG completed 12 acquisitions, including the property of Miss Universe. Moreover, the company partnered with Turner Broadcasting on ELeague, an eSports competitive gaming league.