2004: Newsmakers - IMG seeks investors

IMG, the global sports and entertainment management company, is seeking financing partners to fuel expansion and provide its owners with liquidity, as it enters a new phase of an 18-month reorganization.

Though the comprehensive review of company operations began before last year’s death of founder Mark McCormack, the ongoing changes have instigated media scrutiny and industry speculation about IMG’s future. The Cleveland-based firm is one of the golf industry’s biggest players with a client list that includes Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam.

Earlier this month, The Wall Street Journal Online reported that privately held IMG had hired Rothschild North America, an asset-management firm, to explore a range of options, including the possible sale of the sports and entertainment giant. The report, citing sources, said McCormack’s death left a large estate tax for his wife, Betsy Nagelsen McCormack.

Repeated efforts to contact IMG executives were unsuccessful.

The management company, however, did release a statement summarizing its restructuring efforts and likely next steps.

IMG stated it retained Rothschild last summer to help advise the company during its reorganizationthat began 18 months ago.

Facing challenges from a weakened global economy, IMG realigned some of its business units and streamlined its business. According to the WSJ, such changes involved the sale of some assets, including a European soccer team, and staff downsizing.

“As a result of this disciplined and successful exercise, IMG is now preparing for a period of sustained growth. Growth will be organic (e.g. international expansion) and through possible strategic acquisitions. As a next step in the process, a Management-led initiative will identify financing partners to enhance profitable expansion and provide current owners with some liquidity,” according to the IMG statement.

The release made no mention about an outright sale of the firm, but added that IMG’s goal is to begin discussions with a small, targeted group of financing partners within the next two to three months.

IMG has 70 offices worldwide and represents athletes, television personalities, models, musicians and authors. Its television division, TWI, is the largest independent producer and distributor of sports programming.

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