Saturday 17 March 2018

Global mixed martial arts brand UFC sold for $4bn

Irish star Conor McGregor said he was ‘honoured’ to fight in UFC. AP Photo/John Locher
Irish star Conor McGregor said he was ‘honoured’ to fight in UFC. AP Photo/John Locher
Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

Dublin fight star Conor McGregor was quick off the blocks yesterday to congratulate UFC owners on the $4bn sale of their brand.

McGregor thanked Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta for their support, after news broke of their sale of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The $4bn (€3.6bn) sale of the global mixed martial arts brand and business reaped the US brothers a massive return on their original $2m purchase.

The business has been sold to a consortium of talent and sports agency WME-IMG, private equity firms Silver Lake and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and a vehicle that manages money for computer billionaire Michael S Dell.

The Fertitta brothers - who are also casino entrepreneurs - will retain hold a stake in the company while the majority of the shares will go to WME-IMG, headed by co-chief executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell.

High-profile UFC president Dana White is expected to keep his role whilst overseeing the day-to-day running of the company, while Lorenzo Fertitta is set to step down as CEO.

The Fertitta duo, along with White, bought the business in 2001 for $2m, but it has since developed into a popular global brand, producing stars including Conor McGregor - known as The Notorious - and female fighter Ronda Rousey.

"I am honoured to have fought under the Fertitta regime. To have been mentored by these great people on this great business is a true honour," McGregor said on Twitter.

The sale taps into media companies' demand for live content, broadcast on TV and digital.

IMG's core business is to sell media rights to sporting events, and it produces and owns events such as New York Fashion Week. Silver Lake has part-owned wrestling franchise WME since 2012.

"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," WME co-chief executive officer Ari Emanuel said in a memo.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business