Private investment firm Forstmann Little said Wednesday that it has inked an agreement to sell IMG to Silver Lake Partners and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. No financial terms were disclosed. Evercore and Morgan Stanley advised Forstmann Little on the transaction. Headquartered in New York City, IMG is a global talent agency.
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Forstmann Little & Co. (“Forstmann Little”), a private investment firm, announced today that it has reached an agreement with Silver Lake Partners and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC (“WME”) to sell its ownership stake in IMG Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (“IMG”), a global sports, fashion and media business. The transaction concludes a successful partnership between Forstmann Little and IMG, during which IMG grew into one of the world’s premier sports, entertainment and media companies with 3,500 employees in more than 30 countries around the world, and involved in an average of 11 sports and entertainment events every day.
“Today marks the successful culmination of the bold global strategy devised by Ted Forstmann for IMG over many years,” said Mark MacDougall, a partner of the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP, speaking on behalf of Forstmann Little. “We would like to thank the Board of Directors, the leadership team and all of the employees of IMG for all that they have done to bring us to this day. We are confident that this fine company will continue to flourish and grow under the leadership of Silver Lake and WME.”
“We would also like to express our appreciation to our limited partners, who have shown great patience and support of IMG and its management through the years, helping lead to this successful outcome,” said Winston Hutchins, the remaining General Partner of Forstmann Little.
IMG traces its roots to 1960 when Cleveland lawyer Mark McCormack effectively founded the sports marketing industry by signing golf legend Arnold Palmer to his first representation contract. IMG was acquired in 2004 by Forstmann Little, the private equity firm led by the late Ted Forstmann. Until his untimely death in November, 2011, Mr. Forstmann served as Chairman of the Board and CEO of IMG and devoted his formidable energy, talent and creativity to building the world’s most important vertically integrated sports, entertainment, and media company. His global vision for IMG included ground-breaking initiatives aimed at the development of professional sports leagues and marketing ventures in China, Brazil and India.
In 2010, Mr. Forstmann negotiated the acquisition by IMG of ISP Sports. Founded in 1992 by another great sports entrepreneur – Ben Sutton of Winston-Salem, North Carolina – ISP Sports contributed multimedia rights at an additional 64 colleges, conference, bowl and venue properties to the business of IMG College. Mr. Sutton also joined IMG as President of IMG College in 2010. Under the leadership of George Pyne – President of IMG Sports & Entertainment – IMG’s college business has become the centerpiece of the business model envisioned by Ted Forstmann, with marketing rights to 90 universities and conferences, including two-thirds of the Bowl Championship Series schools and 49 of the 50 largest U.S. markets.
CEO Michael Dolan and Co-Presidents Chuck Bennett (Golf, Fashion and Tennis) and Michel Masquelier (IMG Media) round-out the senior management team that has taken IMG to this important day.
Evercore and Morgan Stanley served as the financial advisors to Forstmann Little on the transaction.
IMG is a global sports, fashion and media business, with 3,500 employees operating in more than 30 countries around the globe. IMG’s areas of expertise are diverse and wide ranging: IMG College is the leader in collegiate marketing, licensing and media rights. IMG’s Joint Ventures, IMG Reliance, IMX, IMG CCTV and IMG Doğuş in the emerging markets of India, Brazil, China and Turkey, offer the company significant long-term growth opportunities. IMG Media is the world’s largest independent producer and distributor of sports programming. IMG Events and Federations owns and manages some of the most sought after events and includes long standing associations with the world’s most important sports organizations, leagues, and federations. IMG Fashion owns and operates fashion events around the world and IMG Models represents the world’s top models and leading designers. IMG Art+Commerce represents the most influential photographers, art directors and stylists.
For the past 50 years, IMG Clients has been the global leader in talent representation, including over 1,000 elite athletes, coaches, industry executives and prestigious sports organizations across the sports, entertainment, fashion and media industries.