WWE founder Vince McMahon is selling a big chunk of his holdings in TKO Group, the Endeavor-controlled owner of the wrestling giant.
According to a securities filing Thursday, McMahon plans to sell 8.4 million shares in TKO, with a street value of just over $700 million as of market close. That is nearly 25 percent of his current holdings in the company.
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McMahon currently serves as executive chairman of TKO Group.
Notably, the filing says that TKO intends to buy back $100 million worth of the shares in the sale, with Endeavor and TKO CEO Ari Emanuel and president and COO Mark Shapiro expected to purchase $1 million each. Other directors have committed to buy another $850,000 in shares.
TKO Group was formed in September when Endeavor spun out its UFC division and merged it with McMahon’s WWE, creating a sports media powerhouse.
The company gave its first quarterly earnings report earlier this week, touting new WWE media rights deals with NBCUniversal and The CW, and new international events in Germany, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
McMahon retired from the WWE last year, but returned in January by leveraging his controlling stake to appoint himself and two others to the company board. He subsequently put the company up for sale, ultimately agreeing to the creation of TKO.
McMahon’s initial exit from the company was tied to a misconduct investigation, and the company said earlier this year that McMahon had paid it more than $17 million to reimburse it for the costs of that investigation.
The FBI in July served a search warrant and grand jury subpoena at McMahon’s home, though no charges have been filed as of now.
By offering to buy more than $100 million of McMahon’s shares, the company is likely trying to send a message to Wall Street that it — and Emanuel and Shapiro — are still big believers in the business, which is quite profitable. Executives told analysts this week that they expect to return profits to shareholders, particularly as new rights deals get signed.
This story has been updated to reflect that TKO is buying back the $100 million block of shares.
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