PGA Tour turns down Endeavor bid to form partnership, says COO

Endeavor’s bid to form a strategic partnership with the PGA Tour has been turned down by the circuit, according to the chief operating officer of Endeavor. Mark Shapiro informed Sportico that the offer was officially rejected. Despite being fans of golf and pledging to support the PGA Tour, Endeavor has no plans to invest at any level.

It is unclear whether the Tour’s ongoing negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund influenced the decision to reject Endeavor’s bid. Endeavor, the company that owns WWE, the UFC, and various sports agencies including IMG, had publicly expressed interest in partnering with the Tour.

In a framework agreement between the PIF and PGA Tour signed in June, the PIF has the right of first refusal on capital raised by NewCo, the for-profit entity that includes the Tour, LIV Golf, and the DP World Tour. The deadline to negotiate a definitive agreement is December 31. The original deal stipulated that the parties should work expeditiously to enter into the definitive agreements in good faith.

Endeavor currently has an existing partnership with the Tour, handling the sale of commercial rights and management of tournaments.

Fenway Sports Group, the owner of MLB’s Boston Red Sox, the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, and the English Premier League’s Liverpool FC, has also expressed interest in investing in the Tour.

In an open letter to the PGA Tour membership, Joe Ogilvie, a former Tour player and policy board member, explained that any investment, whether from the PIF or another private equity firm, would involve compromises. Ogilvie likened the partnership to a marriage, where decision-making would require consideration of the best interests of all parties involved. He emphasized the need for players to maintain control while acknowledging the benefits of adopting a for-profit model.

Ogilvie, who works as a long-only value manager with Wallace Capital Management, highlighted that the policy board of the PGA Tour would primarily consist of player directors with equal voting rights to the independent directors. He pointed out that the framework agreement was made without the input of a single PGA Tour player, including those representing the players on the Tour’s policy board.


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