PGA Tour rejects major sports company’s investment bid amid Saudi PIF discussions

The PGA Tour has rejected a private equity offer from one of the most powerful entities in sports.

It is no secret that several companies are vying to provide financial backing to the PGA Tour amid the tour’s ongoing discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, calling into question if the PIF deal will ultimately come to fruition. Endeavor, the parent company the WWE, the UFC, and sports agency IMG, and which has a market value of close to $10 billion, was one of the primary interested investors. Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel confirmed his company’s bid just weeks ago. “We are in the sports business,” Emanuel said earlier in October. “I’m an avid golfer. It’s one of the great sports. I love it. I think we could add to it what we’ve added to all of our sports based on the flywheel [effect].”

But Endeavor’s president and chief operating officer, Mark Shapiro, informed Sportico on Friday that the company’s offer to fund and collaborate with the tour was rejected.

Mark Shapiro of Endeavor stated, “We’re big golf fans, and we’ll continue to champion the PGA Tour, but we’re not going to be an investor at any level.”

The ownership of the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Liverpool F.C. in the Premier League, as well as the investment firm KKR & Co., are among the other entities.

The PGA Tour informed its members of these conversations earlier this month in a memo. The PGA Tour’s Jason Gore wrote in the memo, which Golf Digest was able to obtain, “We remain focused on reaching a Definitive Agreement with PIF and the DP World Tour, but not surprisingly, these negotiations have resulted in unsolicited outreach and proposals from a number of other interested investors.” “All of this activity serves to further solidify the Tour’s strong position and growth potential.”

The framework between the tour and PIF calls for a new agreement to be completed by the end of the year, although both sides can agree to extend the deadline. Outside obstacles remain for the PGA Tour-PIF partnership. The U.S. Senate opened an investigation into the pending deal, citing that the alliance “raises concerns about the Saudi government’s role in influencing this effort and the risks posed by a foreign government entity assuming control over a cherished American institution.” The deal could be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which analyzes mergers regarding potential threats to the nation’s security. Additionally, the tour continues to be under an antitrust probe by the U.S. Department of Justice, and PIF’s investment into the tour is expected to fall under this investigation.

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