Sport Exclusive: Billionaire Fertitta Brothers Sell Remaining UFC Stakes At $5 Billion Valuation

00:30  08 september  2017
00:30  08 september  2017 Source:   Forbes

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Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta , who sold most of their stakes in mixed martial arts promoter UFC at a billion valuation last summer, have now fully divested from the business. The brothers sold their remaining equity—about 5 .8% between them—last month to WME-IMG

Even if it never reaches a $ 5 billion valuation again, UFC still sold for more than any professional sports franchise ever has, and the Fertitta brothers made 2,000 times more than their initial investment.

  Exclusive: Billionaire Fertitta Brothers Sell Remaining UFC Stakes At $5 Billion Valuation © Provided by Forbes Media LLC

Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who sold most of their stakes in mixed martial arts promoter UFC at a $4 billion valuation last summer, have now fully divested from the business.

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The brothers sold their remaining equity—about 5.8% between them—last month to WME-IMG, which acquired the company in August 2016, a source with knowledge of the sale told Forbes. The Fertittas received roughly a 26% premium over last year’s transaction. The new deal values UFC at approximately $5 billion.

The Fertitta brothers are each currently worth an estimated $2 billion, according to Forbes’ real-time rankings of the world’s billionaires. Reached through a representative, the brothers declined to comment on last month’s transaction.

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A representative for WME-IMG and UFC also declined to comment.

The divestiture marks the end of a lucrative investment for the brothers, who acquired Ultimate Fighting Championship for just $2 million in 2001. At the time, the business was teetering on insolvency and struggled with a reputation as a violent sideshow (Senator John McCain famously dismissed mixed martial arts as “human cockfighting” in the 1990s).

Over time, UFC grew into a credible athletic enterprise, exemplified by August’s blockbuster fight between one of its stars, Conor McGregor, and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. McGregor lost the bout in ten rounds, but the event was nonetheless a clear win for all parties, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in total revenue.

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UFC is controlled by talent agency and entertainment conglomerate WME-IMG, which led the 2016 buyout and has held a majority stake ever since. Private equity firms KKR and Silver Lake Partners participated in last year’s deal as strategic investors, and MSD Capital and MSD Partners (owned by billionaire Michael Dell) provided preferred equity financing.

At the time, the $4 billion sale was widely reported as the largest deal in professional sports history. It has since been surpassed by the $8 billion sale of auto-racing series Formula One.

The Fertitta brothers, once again flush with cash, have not held a day-to-day role at UFC in more than a year. They will continue to focus principally on their publicly-traded gaming business, Station Casinos, and their fledgling investment firm, Fertitta Capital.

MORE FROMNoah Kirsch, Forbes Staff

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