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Endeavor buys NFL's On Location Experience after stalled IPO

Thomas Barrabi

Entertainment giant Endeavor said Thursday it has acquired NFL-backed On Location Experiences as it looks to rebound in the wake of an abortive bid to go public last year.

Endeavor bought a majority stake in the live events and hospitality brand in a deal valued at $660 million, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. The NFL, which helped launch On Location Experiences and has retained an ownership stake in the brand, will work with Endeavor as a strategic partner and minority investor.

“By bringing together a leader like On Location with Endeavor’s access and reach, we can advance the way consumers and brands think about money-can’t-buy experiences,” Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said in a statement. “Partnering with the NFL will enable us to leverage the best-in-class executions around one of the biggest events in the world, the Super Bowl, and extend this same level of service and experiences to other sports and entertainment properties globally.”

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Endeavor tapped former Bloomberg executive Paul Caine to serve as president of On Location. Other investors in On Location included RedBird Capital Partners, Bruin Sports Capital and the Carlyle Group.

On Location is best known for its ongoing relationship with the NFL, serving as the league’s official hospitality partner. The company also works with other top sports brands, including the NCAA and PGA, and crafts events around major happenings such as the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft.

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“We are excited to partner with Endeavor to grow On Location Experiences globally,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “We are committed to offering NFL fans unique and first-class experiences at our events. On Location shares this commitment and delivers value for its partners and delights fans at events around the world.”

Endeavor’s holdings include its namesake talent agency William Morris Endeavor, the management firm IMG and Ultimate Fighting Championship. The California-based company paid an unprecedented $4 billion to acquire UFC in 2016.

Endeavor had sought to raise more than $700 million in an IPO last fall, but its plan drew limited interest from investors amid a slew of weak public debuts and concerns about its ability to sustain profits in a talent-driven field. The company tabled its plan in October but noted in an SEC filing that it could pursue an IPO in the future.

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