Entertainment & Arts

Endeavor’s $785M Sale Of Stake In Content Unit To Korea’s CJ ENM Officially Closes

Korea’s CJ ENM, a media giant known for backing projects like the landmark Oscar-winning film Parasite, has closed its acquisition of a controlling stake in Endeavor Content.

The company committed last November to pay $785 million for 80% ownership in the scripted production outfit, which will continue to be overseen by Graham Taylor and Chris Rice. The division has financed, packaged or sold more than 100 series and films, including breakouts like La La Land and Killing Eve.

“Endeavor Content will be the key driving force for CJ ENM’s global growth,” remarked Kang Ho-Sung, CEO, CJ ENM. He added: “CJ ENM plans to produce and distribute its own content for viewers all around the world with Endeavor Content, now part of the multi-studio, as the global basecamp.”

The transaction was set in motion by backlash against packaging by the Writers Guild of America. The guild waged a lengthy campaign against the practice of the same company producing a film or series and also representing its talent, calling it an anti-competitive conflict of interest. It persuaded major talent agencies to sign a franchise agreement imposing a 20% cap on the amount of a production entity that can be owned by an agency.

The divestiture had been expected for months and followed expressions of interest from numerous parties. Endeavor Group Holdings continues to operate a wholly owned unscripted division, which is not part of the CJ deal.

Business-wise, the divestiture of most of Endeavor Content will help trim Endeavor’s debt load, which has concerned some Wall Streeters since its initial public offering in 2021.

Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor Group Holdings, has longstanding ties with CJ Group vice chair Miky Lee dating back to 1995. An agent at that time, Emanuel helped broker the company’s $300 million investment in DreamWorks SKG, a deal spearheaded by Lee.

Parasite, which grossed $259 million worldwide, was a milestone for CJ and the Endeavor deal represents a step-up of its activities in Hollywood.

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