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UFC, WWE Ring Bell On New TKO Parent Company: Merger Official

The WWE and Endeavor, the company that runs the UFC, are official as TKO, a new $21.4 billion sports entertainment company.

Executives from TKO rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday to signal the start of the new publicly traded company that houses the UFC and WWE brands. Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. has a 51 percent controlling interest in the new company. Existing WWE shareholders hold a 49 percent stake.

The new business will be lead by Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel. Vince McMahon, executive chairman at WWE, will serve in the same role at the new company and reportedly controls more than 16 percent of the voting stock and overall interest in TKO. UFC president Dana White now has the title of CEO, though his role is expected to largely remain the same as its been. Current WWE CEO Nick Khan will be the president of the pro wrestling brand.

Those on hand in New York included Emanuel, McMahon, White, Paul Levesque (“Triple H”) and former dual UFC champion Daniel Cormier.

“The creation of TKO marks an exciting new chapter for UFC and WWE as leaders in global sports and entertainment,” Emanuel said in a news release. “Given their continued connectivity to the Endeavor network, we are confident in our ability to accelerate their respective growth and unlock long-term sustainable value for shareholders. With UFC and WWE under one roof, we will provide unrivaled experiences for more than a billion passionate fans worldwide.”

TKO began trading Tuesday on the NYSE under the ticker symbol “TKO.” The share priced opened at $102 and had mild movement up and down through the first 90 minutes of trading.

“This is the culmination of a decades-long partnership between Endeavor and WWE across strategic initiatives including talent representation and media rights. Given our collaborative, trusted relationship and Endeavor’s incredible track record of success growing UFC, we believe WWE is optimally positioned for future growth and success as part of TKO,” McMahon said in the release. “Our focus remains on delivering for our fans across the globe as we take the business to the next level alongside UFC and Endeavor.”

News of the merger between the two mega sports entertainment properties surfaced in March, and the deal was announced in April. The announcement came after McMahon, the founder and majority shareholder of WWE, returned to the company in January and said that it could be up for sale. He had stepped down from his role after news of hush money payments to mistresses surfaced and there was an internal WWE investigation.

The merger marks the end of a 70-year reign for the McMahon family at the head of WWE. McMahon retired from his position in July 2022 after hush money allegations came to light. His daughter Stephanie and Khan served as co-CEOs.

After McMahon left in the wake of the scandal, the WWE announced a total of nearly totaling $20 million in additional payments that hadn’t been accounted for, many of which reportedly were related to the allegations of his sexual misconduct with former employees. The company reportedly had to adjust its financial statements for 2019-2021 because of what the Wall street Journal reported in July 2022 was more than $12 million in hush money payments to four women to cover up “allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.”

McMahon, 77, resumed his duties in January, however, when Stephanie stepped down and he re-signed with the company. McMahon’s contract was reportedly a two-year deal.

White has been mired in his own scandal after video surfaced of him slapping his wife after she struck him in a Mexico nightclub on New Year’s Eve. White offered an apology, but faced no other reprimand for the domestic violence incident caught on camera. The incident forced cable station TBS to push back the launch of White’s Power Slap brand by a week, but the UFC seemed to suffer no ill effects from the incident.

Source : MMA Junkie