Endeavor Content Sale Talks Begin, Though Endeavor President Mark Shapiro Admits “We Don’t Want To See It Go”

Endeavor Group Holdings execs confirmed that talks are under way for the sale of a majority stake in production outfit Endeavor Content.

“Although we’re in the early stages, we’ve already received a lot of incoming interest,” CFO Jason Lublin said during the company’s second-quarter earnings call with Wall Street analysts. “When we have more to share, we’ll let you know.”

Endeavor President Mark Shapiro added that the process formally began last week, and he admitted that execs “don’t want to see it go” given the momentum in the division. That said, a surging deal market could result in a hefty acquisition price, he maintained.

Deadline reported in June the plans of the parent company to shop most of Endeavor Content. The operation is the oldest, biggest and most established of the agency-affiliated studios, especially in TV. In addition to film and television production and distribution, it has also branched into audio. Its movies and TV roster has included Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, See, The Revenant, The Night Manager, Call Me By Your Name and Killing Eve.

Under a settlement reached with the Writers Guild of America by Endeavor and other companies, major agencies agreed to limit their capabilities to package material. Guilds had charged Endeavor’s WME, CAA and others with self-dealing, given their reach across production and talent. Endeavor plans to sell of 80% of projects at Endeavor Content that fall under the WGA’s agreement and retain 20% of those projects.

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While no one in the management team at Endeavor would ideally want to part with the fast-growing Endeavor Content business, it could fetch attractive terms given the red-hot M&A market. Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine earlier this month was acquired for $900 million by private equity firm Blackstone and a new entity run by former Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer. LeBron James’ SpringHill Inc. has fielded interest from Nike and other suitors at a $750 million valuation.

“We’re bullish about the price we can command,” Shapiro said.

The operating unit of Endeavor that encompasses Endeavor Content posted a 70% spike in revenue to $328.2 million in the second quarter. The parent company’s revenue of $1.1 billion slightly missed Wall Street forecasts, but Endeavor raised its full-year targets for revenue and adjusted EBITDA.

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