The World Wrestling Entertainment company has reportedly entered advance talks to merge with the UFC parent company Endeavor Group.
A deal between the two companies could reportedly be announced on Monday as the WWE and UFC “form a new publicly traded company as part of the agreement,” according to NBC News.
Endeavor is slated to own 51% of the new combat sports and entertainment company, while WWE shareholders would get 49%, according to the people. The Endeavor deal gives WWE an enterprise value of $9.3 billion.
The development comes during the same weekend WWE hosts its flagship live event, WrestleMania, in California. The company has spent the past several months looking for a buyer. McMahon returned to the company as chairman in January to oversee the process. Shares of WWE are up more than 33% so far this year, giving it a market value of more than $6.79 billion.
Endeavor head Ari Emanuel, brother Rahm and Zeke Emanuel, will reportedly act as both chief of Endeavor and the new company formed. WWE founder Vince McMahon will likely be executive chairman, while Dana White will remain president of the UFC.
The 77-year-old Vince McMahon retired from WWE last July after several allegations erupted, claiming that he paid women millions of dollars over the years to cover up alleged affairs and misconduct. McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie, took over the company as CEO alongside Nick Khan. Stephanie McMahon’s husband, Paul Levesque, also known as the wrestler Triple H, oversaw creative decisions at WWE.
As Breitbart News reported earlier this year, UFC Dana White became a lightning rod for controversy when video captured him slapping his wife at a New Year’s Eve event. White admitted to the offense and apologized.
“My wife and I were out on Saturday night on New Year’s Eve, and unfortunately, that’s what happened,” White said. “I’m one of the guys you’ve heard me say for years, there’s never, ever an excuse for guy to put his hands on a woman, and now here I am on TMZ talking about it.”
“My wife and I have been married for almost 30 years, we’ve known each other since we were 12 years old. We’ve obviously been through some s*** together, we’ve got three kids and this is one of those situations that’s horrible, I’m embarrassed, but it’s also one of those situations that right now, we’re more concerned about our kids,” he added.
White said that he and his wife reconciled afterward and that they still managed to enjoy their vacation.
“There was definitely a lot of alcohol involved, but that’s no excuse,” White said. “I literally am making no excuses for this at all. It’s never happened before. It’s the first time that it’s ever happened, and people are going to say what they’re going to say. It is what it is, and whatever people do say is deserved. I deserve it. It happened. I don’t know why it happened.
“My wife and I have apologized to each other. We’ve apologized to our kids, and this is one of those things where everybody is going to chime in. I could care less what anybody else thinks about this. Right now what we’re more concerned about are our kids and taking care of our family,” he concluded. “That was the beginning of it and the end of it. We’re still on vacation. We’re obviously best friends, she’s my wife and we had too much to drink, and whatever happened that night happened. That was it and it was done.”
Anne White backed up her husband’s claims in a separate statement to TMZ.
“Dana and I have been married for almost 30 years,” Anne said. “To say this is out of character for him is an understatement — nothing like this has ever happened before. Unfortunately, we were both drinking too much on New Year’s Eve and things got out of control, on both sides.”
“We’ve talked this through as a family and apologized to each other. I just hope people will respect our privacy for the sake of our kids,” she added.