TWO DEATHS AND A MERGER: THE IMG OF THE 21st CENTURY
Article | October 2015 | by Amal Masri
"How I got the deal was he died." This is Ted Forstmann's explanation for how he finally got his hands on IMG. Mark McCormack created IMG in 1960. In his 43 years as the CEO and sole owner, he built the world’s largest sports and media company. Then he died suddenly in 2003, and the highly-leveraged IMG fell into the hands of Forstmann’s buyout firm.
Ironically enough, this is also how Forstmann’s successor, Ari Emanuel, took control of IMG. To Emanuel, a Hollywood power agent, Forstmann’s death was a window of opportunity. Just as McCormack had refused to sell to Forstmann, Forstmann refused to sell to Emanuel. But Emanuel was intent on merging his agency, William Morris Endeavor, with IMG. When Forstmann’s health failed, he got his wish. Whether getting that wish turned out to be a blessing or a curse is a question Vanity Fair wrestles with in its story on the WME-IMG merger.
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