WME|IMG said Wednesday that it has agreed to buy the Professional Bull Riders Inc. Financial terms weren’t announced. Pueblo, Colorado-based Professional Bull Riders is a bull riding circuit that features more than 300 bull riding events globally. WME|IMG is backed by Silver Lake.
BEVERLY HILLS, CA–(Marketwired – April 15, 2015) – WME|IMG announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR), the world’s premier bull riding circuit, furthering the company’s foothold in live event productions.
With more than 300 bull riding events globally each year, attended by over 3 million people, the PBR is the fastest growing sport in the United States. Headquartered in Colorado, PBR reaches more than 550 million households in more than 40 countries, and is led by Chairman and CEO Jim Haworth.
WME|IMG co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell said, “We’ve worked closely with the PBR for the last several years and share their passion for expanding the sport of bull riding globally. The resources across WME|IMG make the partnership a perfect match, combining top quality event production and broadcast rights.”
“We are thrilled to join the WME|IMG family,” said Haworth. “The acquisition will allow our organization to continue its expansion worldwide, and bring our top-quality events to the masses. I look forward to broadening our reach and continuing as America’s fastest growing sport.”
Bull riders from all over the globe compete on the elite PBR Built Ford Tough Series, the BlueDEF Velocity Tour, the Touring Pro Division, and the PBR international circuits in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. The PBR was founded in 1992 by a group of 20 visionary bull riders who sought mainstream attention for the sport.
This comes on the heels of other recent acquisitions by the global sports and entertainment company, joining recently announced additions Global eSports Management, Dixon Talent, Icon Sports Management, MADE Fashion Week and Artist Voice. It will also further WME|IMG’s footprint in owned and operated properties, which include Formula Drift Racing, Miami Open, New York Fashion Week, Rio Open, Taste Festivals and the U.S. Open of Surfing.
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including antitrust regulatory approval, and is expected to close in May 2015. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. WME|IMG is purchasing the PBR from the controlling shareholder, Spire Capital Partners, a leading private equity firm based in New York, as well as other shareholders. The Raine Group and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as WME|IMG’s financial and legal advisors, respectively, and the PBR was advised by financial advisors Evercore and legal advisors Dentons.
WME|IMG is the global leader in sports, entertainment, media, and fashion. Operating in more than 25 countries around the world, the company specializes in talent representation; commercial marketing and endorsements; brand strategy, activation and licensing; media production and distribution; and event management. Formed in 2014, when WME acquired IMG, WME|IMG’s nearly 5,000 employees work across businesses including IMG Academy, Art + Commerce, Books, College, Commercials and Endorsements, Digital, Events, Film, Golf, Licensing, Models, Music, Production, Speakers, Television, Tennis, and Theater.
About the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR)
The premier bull riding organization in the world began as a dream of 20 bull riders 23 years ago and is now a global sports phenomenon. PBR broadcasts reach more than half a billion households in 40 nations and territories around the world, and more than 3 million fans attend live events each year. On its elite Built Ford Tough Series, the PBR features the Top 35 bull riders in the world and the top bulls in the business. The televised Built Ford Tough Series, the BlueDEF Velocity Tour, the Touring Pro Division and the PBR’s international circuits in Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico have paid more than $140 million in earnings to its athletes. Twenty-seven men have earned more than $1 million, including three-time World Champion Silvano Alves who, in just 54 months, won more than $5.2 million to become the richest bull rider in history. For more information on the PBR, go to PBR.com, or follow on Facebook at Facebook.com/PBR, Twitter at Twitter.com/PBR, and YouTube at YouTube.com/PBR.