UFC owner Endeavor makes long-awaited NYSE debut on second attempt


(Reuters) -Endeavor Group Holdings Inc, the U.S. entertainment and events company run by Hollywood electricity broker Ari Emanuel, saw its shares soar when they debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, valuing the company at $ 10.8 billion.

The debut of Endeavor, parent company of popular mixed martial arts organization UFC, was its second attempt to go public after abandoning plans to float its shares just a day before an initial public offering slated for 2019 due to ‘poor demand.

“We’ve re-engaged, structured and re-segmented the company, and I think we have a cleaner, simpler story driven by an incredible roster of extremely strategic institutional investors,” said Endeavor President Mark Shapiro, in an interview.

The Miss Universe Pageant, a professional bull-riding circuit, and Hollywood star and former pro wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson are all part of the Endeavor group, as well as promoting the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Shares of the Beverly Hills, Calif., Company closed at $ 25.2, above its IPO price of $ 24 per share on Wednesday. The stock had opened at $ 27.

The company’s listing comes amid a bull run in the US financial markets, where a number of highly regarded startups such as cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global and South Korea’s Amazon equivalent Coupang have become public.

Endeavor, which recently appointed Tesla Inc chief Elon Musk to its board, caters to a star clientele including Johnson, actor Mark Wahlberg and tennis stars Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova through its talent agency WME.

It has also funded films such as “La La Land” and “Just Mercy”.

Following the listing, Endeavor plans to purchase the remaining 49.9% stake in UFC from private equity firms KKR and Silver Lake. He bought the majority stake from casino moguls Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta in 2016.

“Securing full ownership of the UFC is something that clearly resonates with the market,” Shapiro said.

Reporting by Echo Wang in Miami and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Will Dunham, Anil D’Silva and Sonya Hepinstall

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