Saudi fund said to eye stake in Hollywood talent agency

Public Investment Fund reportedly in preliminary talks to invest in agency for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon
(ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
By Bloomberg
Tue 16 Jan 2018 01:22 PM

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is in talks to buy a stake in Endeavor, the holding company for Hollywood talent agency WME, people familiar with the matter said.

The Public Investment Fund, known as PIF, is in preliminary discussions to invest more than $500 million, which will help the talent agency for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon expand its operations, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. The stake could range between 5 percent and 10 percent, though the final size and valuation are still being negotiated, they said.

Discussions are ongoing, and no final decisions have been made, the people said.

Endeavor was valued at $6.3 billion including debt when it raised money in August 2017, a person with knowledge of the matter said at the time, while its equity was valued at $5 billion. Its existing investors include Silver Lake, SoftBank Group Corp, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

Representatives for PIF, Endeavor and Silver Lake declined to comment.

An investment would give Endeavor money to fund its ever-growing web of entertainment, sports and fashion businesses. CEO Ari Emanuel and executive chairman Patrick Whitesell have pushed Endeavor far beyond the roots of the talent agency for which the company is named.

Endeavor runs WME, which represents movie stars, directors, TV producers and musicians. It also owns Professional Bull Riders, the Miss Universe organization and IMG, a sports and fashion company. Endeavor completed its biggest deal to date in 2016 when it acquired Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts company.

PIF has already announced several large international deals, including a $20 billion commitment to US infrastructure fund managed by Blackstone Group, up to $45 billion for a technology fund managed by SoftBank and a $3.5 billion stake in Uber Technologies.

The Saudi fund, which aims to become a $2 trillion investment giant, is considering borrowing from banks for the first time as it seeks investments in the kingdom and abroad, people familiar with the matter said this week.

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