TKO Group, the combat sports giant formed out of the merger of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) promotions, has announced that former WWE chair and chief executive Vince McMahon is selling up to 8.4 million shares in the company.
The shareholding, reportedly amounting to around a third of the US businessman’s stake in the group, will net him around $700 million based on the current share price of the company.
TKO states that some of its directors, including chief executive Ari Emanuel and chief operating officer Mark Shapiro, are interested in purchasing as much as $1 million of stock each from McMahon.
Shapiro and Emanuel both came into TKO on the side of the deal of Endeavor, UFC’s parent company, which controls 51% of TKO group currently.
The stock sale indicates that McMahon, the current executive chair of TKO, could be wanting out of the business altogether.
The rumors of Endeavour owner Silver Lake potentially looking to privatize the venture could further this, as the Endeavor directors are reportedly looking to free themselves of association with McMahon in all capacities, a move that will be made easier without stocks being floated on the stock exchange.
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McMahon is a controversial figure, having been embroiled in a number of high-profile lawsuits over the years. In 2022, he was found to have made $19.6 million in unreported payments, reportedly used as hush money to cover up claims of sexual misconduct committed by himself and other prominent figures.
The 78-year-old briefly retired from his roles in WWE for a period, before stepping back into the fold ahead of the TKO Merger.
TKO Stock closed on November 9 at $84.90, a 5% fall on the day after TKO released its financial results for the third quarter (Q3) of 2023.
The group posted revenue of $449.1 million, an increase of 32% on the UFC’s Q3 of 2022.
This 32% increase, amounting to a gain of $108.4 million, was powered by a revenue increase of $56.8 million from the UFC, as well as $51.6 million of revenue provided by the newly merged WWE that it had not had in years prior.
The company also issued a dividend to shareholders following the merger on September 29, amounting to $3.86 per common share.
Despite the gain in revenue, year-on-year net income for the group fell by a greater amount.
In Q3 2022, the UFC drew a net income of $129.7 million, but in Q3 this year that figure has fallen to just $22 million. The group attributes this to the increase in revenue being offset by higher operating expenses.