Parent of IMG Academy in Bradenton sold

Los Angeles TimesDecember 18, 2013 

The Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor and the private equity firm Silver Lake Partners announced a deal on Wednesday to acquire IMG Worldwide Inc., the sports and media entity that represents stars such as NFL quarterback Peyton Manning and singer Taylor Swift -- and which also owns IMG Academy in Bradenton.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but people familiar with the matter said WME is paying private equity firm Forstmann Little about $2.3 billion for the New York-based company. The deal gives WME a trove of new clients and a big presence in the sports representation business.

IMG has more than 500 athletes, models and entertainers as clients, including Gisele Bundchen, Novak Djokovic and Justin Timberlake, and adding that roster helps WME beef up its competition with CAA in the representation industry.

It also owns IMG Academy, a sports training facility in Bradenton.

"IMG has incredible strategic value to WME," said Patrick Whitesell and Ariel Emanuel, WME's co-chief executives, in a statement. "The brand's global reach, outstanding management team and leadership across sports, fashion and media are a strong complement to our business."

Whitesell and Emanuel will run the combined company.

IMG was put up for sale after private equity maven Theodore Forstmann died in 2011.

J.P. Morgan, Barclays, RBC Capital Markets and Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. advised and financed WME and Silver Lake in the transaction. The companies were also advised by Raine Group, Dean Bradley Osborne, Lazard, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Evercore and Morgan Stanley served as financial advisors for Forstmann Little.

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