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Consortium buys UFC for US$4 billion
After months of speculation over its ownership, sports entertainment property UFC, which recently completed its 200th event, has been sold for an undisclosed amount, believed to be approximately US$4 billion.
The new owners of the mixed martial arts company, are led by Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG as well as private equity firms Silver Lake Partners, which owns WME-IMG, and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, along with the investment firm of billionaire Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computers.
UFC President Dana White, who will continue in the role, confirmed the sale of the mixed martial arts company to The Associated Press on Sunday night.
WME co-Chief Executive Ari Emanuel also announced the sale in an internal company email stating “we’ve been honored to have UFC and a number of its athletes as clients and couldn’t be happier to take our relationship to this next level as the organisation’s owner and operating partner.
“UFC has experienced tremendous growth over the last decade and we are looking forward to helping the organisation and its athletes identify new opportunities to develop and further establish their global footprint.”
The UFC was founded in 1993 as the Ultimate Fighting Championship, staging violent fights that were banned or unregulated in many areas.
Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta and White, their high school friend, purchased the promotion for US$2 million in 2001.
With White as the promotional face and Lorenzo Fertitta as its Chairman, the Las Vegas-based UFC was kept afloat by the Fertitta brothers’ casino fortune while the sport once labeled by John McCain as “human cockfighting” gradually gained widespread acceptance and popularity.
The UFC used cable television and the internet to get its intriguing product in front of young fans, and they also sought legitimacy by welcoming regulation by athletic commissions. New York finally lifted its ban on MMA earlier this year, putting the sport in all 50 states of the USA as well as staging events around the world.
With more than 500 athletes under contract, the UFC stages roughly 40 events per year and is broadcast in more than 150 countries, reaching 1.1 billion television households. The promotion has built a large roster of endorsement deals and sponsorships, and its subsidiary ventures include everything from a digital streaming service to more than 100 branded fitness centres.
Under the new ownership, White while the will stay on to run the UFC, while the Fertitta brothers’ will retain a minority interest.
The Abu Dhabi Government retains its 10% stake in the global entertainment brand.
Image: UFC#193 at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium was headlined by Rhonda Rousey.
30th March 2016 - ETIHAD STADIUM’S UFC193 EVENT DELIVERS ECONOMIC IMPACT OF $102 MILLION
22nd December 2015 - UFC GYM TO OPEN FIRST ARABIAN GULF CLUB IN DUBAI IN 2016
21st December 2015 - UFC GYM ANNOUNCES AUSTRALIAN EXPANSION PLANS
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