Fight Promoter UFC Kicks Off Leveraged Loan to Fund a Dividend

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(Bloomberg) -- Mixed-martial arts promoter UFC Holdings LLC launched a $600 million leveraged loan on Wednesday amid a flurry of new deals in the market.

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Proceeds from the offering will fund a distribution to UFC’s parent company Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. for general corporate purposes, which may include acquisitions, according to a person familiar with the matter who isn’t authorized to speak publicly.

UFC, led by Dana White, has experienced rapid growth in recent years and aims to compete against larger, more established sports. The company essentially made mixed-martial arts matches mainstream in the U.S., but has faced legal risks over alleged anti-competitive behavior and fighter injuries.

Read more: UFC Boss Dana White Wants to Make MMA the World’s Biggest Sport

A group led by Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG, which was later renamed Endeavor, bought UFC in 2016, where it has since been the company’s crown jewel. Endeavor announced its purchase of sports betting company OpenBet for $1.2 billion in September. Shortly thereafter, CEO Ariel Emanuel said that he’s “pretty curious” about further merger and acquisition opportunities.

UFC last tapped the leveraged loan market in January to cut the interest rate on existing debt amid a repricing spree unleashed by low rates and strong investor demand. The company has sold other deals to loan investors in the past, raising $1.375 billion in 2016 to finance its buyout, then successfully slashing margins on that debt with a repricing transaction in 2017.

Its current offering comes on the heels of a month heavily populated with loans financing takeovers. September saw 95 sales hit the market with 43 backing acquisitions and leveraged buyouts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The frenzy has continued into October with seven borrowers coming forward with acquisition-backing deals on Tuesday alone.

The market has also recently seen a stretch of dividend-funding loans, as owners look to capitalize on robust appetites for new issues.

UFC’s new deal will be an add-on to an existing loan maturing in 2026. Pricing is being discussed at 275 basis points above the London interbank offered rate and commitments are due on Oct. 20. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is leading the transaction.

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