Japan’s Softbank has invested $250 million in WME-IMG which represents deal that values the entertainment, sports and fashion company at $5.5bn. The companies announced Wedensday.
The sports and entertainment powerhouse led by Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, managing stars ranging from actor Ben Affleck to tennis player Serena Williams.
SoftBank is part owner of Yahoo Japan and holds a controlling stake in US wireless provider Sprint. SoftBank joins current strategic investor, private equity firm Silver Lake which invested $200 million for a 31 precent stake in 2012.
In 2014, WME bought IMG for $2.4 billion. The acquisition gave WME a leading position in sports and fashion: it owns one of the industry’s largest modelling agencies. They manages the careers of 14 of the 21 highest paid models as listed by Forbes.
Additionally, WME | IMG owns or operates more than 30 fashion weeks including New York Berlin, Shenzhen and Toronto.
Its OTT channel, Made to Measure, is the first-ever fashion dedicated channel featuring live and archival runway footage and original documentaries, and one of the first initiatives developed by the company’s original content group.
It also owns or commercially represents leading tennis and golf tournaments, including the Championships at Wimbledon.
WME | IMG completed 12 acquisitions in 2015 and broaden its owned event portfolio and content offerings through properties like the Professional Bull Riders and Miss Universe. The company also formed four strategic joint ventures in 2015 including ELeague, an eSports league created in conjunction with Turner.
“SoftBank brings a unique industry perspective and a commitment to help us deliver valuable new opportunities to our clients and partners in markets around the world, ” the WME-IMG co-CEOs said in the announcement.
The agency says it will use the capital to advance its global growth strategy through new investments, acquisitions and joint ventures.
In recent months, the agancy have acquired Donald Trump’s Miss Universe Organizations and Professional Bull Riders Inc.
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