Vince McMahon has reportedly set an asking price of up to $9 billion for World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE), the media company he ran for decades and returned to this year in order to sell it. According to a Bloomberg report, citing people familiar with the matter, the company has received some offers, with Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. (EDR), owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, among the potential buyers.
When asked for comment, WWE declined. McMahon, WWE’s controlling shareholder, had stepped aside last year after reports in the Wall Street Journal that he had paid millions of dollars to settle sexual-misconduct claims. He then reinstated himself as executive chairman in January to oversee a strategic review and sale of the company.
WWE shares closed up about 1% in trading Friday. As of the stock’s close, the asking price was nearly 40% higher than the company’s $6.5 billion market value. The stock has climbed 28% this year, largely because of speculation over the potential sale.
The high asking price has caused wrestling observers to question how much WWE could actually fetch in a sale. Brandon Thurston, editor of Wrestlenomics, told MarketWatch, “WWE may be worth $7 billion if you can get affordable financing. But WWE is not a growth company. The live sports rights market is strong for the foreseeable future but uncertain beyond the horizon of a few years, given questions around whether streaming can really replace the profits of cable.”
As the sale of WWE is being discussed, McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon, recently resigned from the company. The news came after Vince McMahon’s return to the board. Additionally, it was reported that Vince McMahon had agreed to a multimillion-dollar legal settlement with an accuser.
Given the high asking price and the uncertainty surrounding the future of the live sports rights market, the sale of WWE is not a sure thing. However, Vince McMahon’s return to the board and the speculation around the sale have caused the company’s stock to rise significantly this year. It is unclear if the company will be able to fetch the $9 billion asking price. In the end, the sale of WWE will depend on how much potential buyers are willing to pay for the company.