Endeavor Shares Pop 5% in NYSE Debut

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

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The second time was the charm for superagent-turned-mogul Ari Emanuel.

After facing the embarrassment of being forced to pull the initial public offering for Endeavor Group Holdings at the 11th hour in 2019, shares of his entertainment and live events conglomerate debuted Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange with a 5% gain.

Endeavor includes the venerable William Morris Agency and the sports and modeling agency IMG as well as live events as varied as the Professional Bull Riders tour and Miss Universe. Most appealing to investors, the firm is in the process of acquiring 100% of the mixed-martial-arts league UFC, which experienced considerable growth during the pandemic.

Endeavor's leaders Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, as well as UFC president Dana White, all appeared at the NYSE Thursday morning wearing black masks. Soon after, Endeavor stock began trading at $24 per share, which was the upper end of where it was priced.

With many live events cancelled, Endeavor brought in just $3.5 billion in revenue in 2020, resulting in a net loss of $625.3 million. In pre-pandemic 2019, it brought in $4.6 billion in revenue and recorded a net loss of $530.7 million.

But that did not scare off billionaire tech titans Larry Ellison and Michael Dell, who bought shares in the company, or Elon Musk, who joined the board of directors.

Endeavor was co-founded by Emanuel when he broke away from ICM in 1995. It merged with William Morris Agency in 2009, acquired IMG in 2014, and a stake in UFC in 2016.


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