SoftBank Group Corp., the Japanese telecommunications company, invested $250 million in WME-IMG LLC in a deal that values the sports and entertainment agency and producer of New York Fashion Week, at $5.5 billion. WME-IMG, created when the talent agency for Ben Affleck and Matt Damon acquired the sports and fashion agency IMG, will use the money for investments, acquisitions and joint ventures, the companies said Wednesday in a statement.
The accord marks a return to Hollywood for SoftBank, which was active in entertainment properties a couple of years ago, acquiring the video site DramaFever and a stake in Legendary Entertainment, a producer of the Batman films. WME-IMG, run by co-Chief Executive Officers Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, is one of two leading talent agencies along with Creative Artists Agency. Other terms of the investment weren’t provided. The deal values WME-IMG at $5.5 billion, according to the Financial Times, which reported the agreement earlier Wednesday.
Both WME-IMG and CAA have looked outside the media business for capital to expand into areas like sports and fashion. Silver Lake Management LLC, the private-equity firm, bought a stake in WME in 2012 and helped finance the deal for IMG.
“Ari, Patrick and the rest of WME-IMG’s talented management team have a strong record of performance and transformation at the intersection of entertainment, sports and fashion,” SoftBank Director Ron Fisher said in the statement. “We look forward to supporting WME-IMG as it advances the next phase of its growth, further developing and driving its client and content offerings.”