(UPDATED With WGA statement) Endeavor’s planned IPO scheduled to launch Friday on the New York Stock Exchange has been pulled, Deadline has confirmed. The company, which sources say still plans to go public, does not have a timeline for a rescheduled launch, but we hear it will not happen before the end of 2019.
“Endeavor will continue to evaluate the timing for the proposed offering as market conditions develop,” a company spokesperson told Deadline on Thursday.
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The news comes amid insecurity in the IPO market, most recently witnessed via turbulent starts for the likes of Uber, Lyft and today the fitness company Peloton, which dropped 11% in its first trading session. Sources say after that performance, the concern among Endeavor’s primary players was that the company would be undervalued.
Earlier in the day, Endeavor Group Holdings lowered the price of its IPO from $30-$32 to $26-$27, according to an SEC filing, which also revealed the initial offer would be for 15 million shares, down from the 19.4 million initially forecast.
The original plan was to raise as much as $712 million from the IPO, though the lower targets suggest a significant cut of the target.
Today’s near 11th hour u-turn on going public was the second time that Endeavor has changed IPO course in the past several months. On this most recent occasion, there have been reports in recent days suggesting demand for the stock has been lower than anticipated. In that environment, having announced today as their IPO launch less than a week ago, the often sharp elbowed Endeavor has been enclosed in a mandatory quiet period before the offering.
Following that SEC paperwork earlier today and the Peloton face plant, the top players at Endeavor and their financial advisors huddled to decide to pull the potentially lucrative plug for now. “It was not an easy or desired decision this far along,” an insider said of the mid-afternoon ET move. “However, messy as it might seem right now, it was strategic as opposed to tactical and intended to ensure a brighter outcome at the right time,” the individual added
The IPO cancellation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Led by CEO Ari Emanuel and executive chairman Patrick Whitesell, Endeavor is pitching itself to Wall Street as far more than a talent management concern. With significant financial backing from minority investors Silver Lake Partners and Softbank in the past few years, Endeavor has acquired the UFC, sports and fashion management firm IMG, the Professional Bull Riders and other diverse assets like large scale live events.
More controversially, given that it still operates top-tier talent agency WME, the company has also boosted its production activity through its Endeavor Content arm. The Writers Guild of America and other critics have criticized the push on the content side, arguing the company is negotiating against itself to the disadvantage of clients. As the Guild has encouraged its member to leave their agents and multiple lawsuits over packaging and other disputes move through the courts, the WGA has emerged as a very vocal foe of the proposed IPO from Day One.
“Reports that the Endeavor IPO has been withdrawn show that investors didn’t buy the company’s conflicted business practices,” the Guild said in a surprisingly succinct and constrained statement on Thursday.