SoftBank Group of Japan has made a $250 million investment in WME/IMG. SoftBank joins current strategic investor Silver Lake in its partnership with WME/IMG. The investment is expected to be used to advance its global growth strategy through new investments, acquisitions and joint ventures.
“Ari [Emanuel], Patrick [Whitesell] and the rest of the WME/IMG’s talented management team have a strong record of performance and transformation at the intersection of entertainment, sports and fashion,” said Ron Fisher, director of SoftBank, who managed the investment process. He said he looks forward to supporting WME/IMG as it enters its next phase of growth, further developing and driving its client and content offerings. Emanuel and Whitesell are co-chief executive officers of WME/IMG.
William Morris Entertainment and Silver Lake acquired IMG Worldwide in 2014 for $2.4 billion. With the SoftBank investment, all stakes will be diluted pro rata.
Among its various endeavors, WME/IMG owns, operates or represents more than 800 events, two-thirds of which are sports, including professional golf and tennis tournaments. It is also a leader in model management and talent discovery. Additionally, WME/IMG owns or operates more than 30 fashion weeks including New York Fashion Week: The Shows. Through The Wall Group and Art + Commerce, WME/IMG represents photographers, stylists, creative directors, production designers, hair and makeup artists, and illustrators.
WME/IMG also represents a diverse roster of artists and creators across every entertainment vertical including motion pictures, TV, music, books, commercials, digital and theater. Its sports client roster ranges from professional athletes to sports federations and leagues to more than 200 collegiate institutions.
SoftBank has considerable stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan, among others.