IMG acquires Honda Classic operator
IMG Worldwide announced today that it has acquired IGP Sports & Entertainment Group and will expand IGP’s office in North Palm Beach, Fla.
Terms were not disclosed.
With the acquisition, Ken Kennerly, the Honda Classic’s tournament director who has led IGP Sports, will join IMG Golf as head of its North American events division.
The acquisition will add the Honda Classic to the IMG stable of events and provide the global management company a significant presence in Florida. As many as five IMG staffers from the Cleveland and London offices will move to Florida, according to Guy Kinnings, senior vice president and global head of IMG Golf.
“The acquisition allows us to create an instant presence in South Florida, a market that has always been very important in the professional golf industry and where a number of our clients are based,” Kinnings said.
Kennerly said IMG’s size will allow him to develop additional business that he was unable to procure with IGP.
“It’s about time they’ve come and diversified and moved out of Cleveland a little bit,” said Trevor Immelman, an IMG client. “There’s no doubt that having an office in Florida is going to be great for all the golfers that live there. They’ve made the office in New York bigger, and they’ve got an office in Chicago now and one on the West Coast, in San Fran(cisco). In my opinion, they really are trying to grow and re-establish their business, especially here in the United States, and so I can’t ask for any more than that.”
According to sources in the industry, IMG is up for sale at a reported $2.3 billion. At that valuation, IMG has yet to find a buyer willing to digest such an acquisition. However, sources within IMG say a sale could occur this year.
“I think if you look at the business that (the late founder Ted) Forstmann was in, it was only a matter of time,” Kennerly said of an anticipated IMG sale. “I rely on Guy and the reputation of IMG and whoever buys the company. I assume they’re buying it for the right reasons and they’re going to pump some money into it and grow it.”
Immelman recently re-signed with IMG though he was aware of the company’s potential sale.
“We all actually knew when the late Ted Forstmann bought the company (in 2004), that’s the business that he’s in is acquisitions, trimming the fat and then making money on the sale,” Immelman said. “I have faith that the company will get sold to another company that has IMG’s best interests at heart because at the end of the day you can’t deny that they are a behemoth in the sporting industry – and, to be fair, in the arts and entertainment, as well, and running events. So hopefully they’re bought by a company that can really expose that and help them grow.”