Miss Universe, meet the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
It may just be one of the quirks of the M&A complex that those two enterprises could somehow be entwined. Unlikely as it might seem, they are.
WME/IMG announced July 11 the acquisition of UFC, or the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the largest promoter of professional mixed martial arts contests. WME/IMG being an enterprise that is, already, the owner of the umbrella organization that conducts the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants.
WME/IMG, whose proper name is William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and is a combination the William Morris agency (as in, the "I started in the mailroom of William Morris and now I'd a legend in Hollywood ....") and the IMG talent agency, bought Miss Universe from the presumptive Republican nominee for president several years ago.
Somewhere, Rhonda Rousey is thinking: career choices.
The deal cost WME/IMG, along with its partners, $4 billion. That's about what the Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report paid the LucasFilm organization for the "Star Wars" franchise in 2012.
It's also more than twice what the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys are worth, each of which has been estimated, according to a recent Forbes magazine analysis, at about $1.8 billion.
And they're pikers in the sports world. Both Real Madrid, at about $1.9 billion, and Manchester United, the world's most valuable sporting franchise at $2.2 billion, are worth more. The Los Angeles Clippers changed hands for about $2 billion in 2014 to Steve Ballmer. (Anybody that has a couple billion extra dollars sliding around in the junk drawer who doesn't want to buy a professional sports team is just crazy, right?)
It's not the first sporting endeavor for WME/IMG. The operation bought the Professional Bull Riders enterprise a few years ago. That's described as the fastest growing sporting business in the industry. So, a good get there.
The sale of UFC is a triumph for the Fertitta brothers, Frank and Lorenzo, a couple of well-known casino operators. The pair ran what used to be known as Station Casinos, since bankrupt, and are now the operators of Red Rock Resorts (RRR) - Get Red Rock Resorts, Inc. Class A Report , the casino business that in May bought FP Holdings, the operator of the Palms Casino Resort, formerly owned by the Maloof brothers, who formerly owned the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise (are you sensing a theme here?), having sold out in 2013 for $534 million. (Having sold out before the Kings became the, you know, kings of the NBA.)
Frank and Lorenzo bought into the UFC in 2001, paying a total of about $2 million. "No other sport compares to the UFC," a press release said, quoting Dana White, the president of the UFC, who is scheduled to speak at the upcoming Republican national convention, which will nominate the presumptive Republican nominee for president (sense a theme here?).
It wasn't the only entertainment-related transaction in the M&A world last week. AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC) - Get AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. Class A Report , the China-based motion picture theater operator, announced an agreement to buy Odeon & UCI Cinemas Holdings, Europe's largest theater operation, for $1.2 billion. The seller is Terra Firma Capital Partners, the investment vehicle of British financier Guy Hands.
AMC is still pursuing its previously announced acquisition of Carmike (CKEC) for $1.1 billion, despite some lingering shareholder opposition.
Another media enterprise, Thomson Reuters (TRI) - Get Thomson Reuters Corporation Report agreed to sell its patent and trademark services business to Orex and Baring Private Equity Asia Group for $3.35 billion.
Overall, the trends in the M&A business have remained much as they have for the year. That is to say, deal volume has increased markedly, though the value hasn't come close to matching prior year levels. According to data compiled by The Deal, the number of transactions this year, nearly 4000, has dwarfed the total of 2368 recorded by this point in 2015. However, the transaction dollar value of $1.3 trillion has trailed the value of deals at this point last year by 16%.