LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) Endeavor, the parent company of Big Four agency WME, is planning on launching an initial public offering by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The company has filed or is about to file confidential paperwork for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the second half of the year, the WSJ reported. Endeavor, valued at around $4 billion this time last year, could exceed that in the listing, people told the paper.
The agency, which also owns Ultimate Fighting Championship, had sought $400 million from Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund but backed away from it after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Endeavor, which has not commented on the story, has annual revenues of $330.87 million according to information website Owler.
The announcement was ripped by WGA, according to Deadline Hollywood, which is preparing to vote to authorize its WGA West board and WGA East council to implement anew agency code of conduct that would ban packaging fees and sever agency ties to affiliated production entities.
“Today’s announcement that Endeavor plans to become a publicly-traded company only strengthens the call for the conflicted and illegal practices of the major talent agencies to end,” the guild said. “It is impossible to reconcile the fundamental purpose of an agency—to serve the best interests of its clients—with the business of maximizing returns for Wall Street. Writers will not be leveraged by their own representatives into assets for investors.”
Much of this has to do with how much packaging, with writers providing the intellectual content, means to the financial value of the agencies. Endeavor financed, sold and developed more than 100 film, TV and nonfiction projects last year.
“Going public will mean greater access to capital via the markets, but also a higher degree of responsibility to shareholders,” Deadline noted. “Ari Emanuel has been in corporate-CEO mode for a while now, speaking last fall at a Goldman Sachs conference in New York. He has been making the case for Endeavor as a larger business than the commission-based shop founded in 1995 by Emanuel and two of his ex-ICM colleagues.”