Vince McMahon, majority owner and former CEO
World Wrestling Entertainment company ,
Plan to return to the next company He retired last year Amid a sexual harassment scandal to follow the sale of the company, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. McMahon, who has majority voting power through his ownership of WWE’s Class-B shares, told the company that he and two former presidents and managers, Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, are electing himself to the board of directors, the people said. . The move to bring back Mr. McMahon, previously rejected by the board, and the others would require three current members to vacate their positions.
Mr. McMahon, whose abrupt departure in July 2022 was followed by disclosures by The Wall Street Journal Multiple payments for women who alleged sexual misconduct and infidelity, expects he’ll be able to take on the CEO role, though he’ll need board approval to do so, People said.
It’s not clear where that will leave his daughter Stephanie McMahon. After his departure, she assumed the position of President and Co-CEO alongside Nick Kahn, the company’s former president.
The 77-year-old sent a letter to WWE’s board of directors in late December detailing his desire to return to the company he’s run for four decades, to help lead the strategic review process, the people said. Mr. McMahon believes there’s a narrow window for the sale to begin because WWE’s media rights — including its flagship programs “Raw” and “SmackDown” — are about to be renegotiated, according to the People.
Mr. McMahon believes the media landscape is rapidly evolving and more companies are looking to own the intellectual property they use on their streaming platforms, making WWE an attractive acquisition target, the people said. WWE, which generates most of his revenue From selling the rights to the content, its first year of publication has been published Over $1 billion in revenue in 2021. The company’s market capitalization is currently just over $5 billion.
The board responded last month in a letter to Mr. McMahon that it was ready to begin a review process and would be willing to work with him on it. However, she said she unanimously agreed that Mr. McMahon’s return to work would not be in the interest of shareholders, according to people familiar with the letters.
The board also asked Mr. McMahon to confirm his commitment to reimbursement for expenses incurred by WWE in connection with the investigation of the allegations and asked him to agree not to return to the company during government investigations into the matter, the people said. Mr. McMahon said in response that he remained willing to continue working to complete any compensation for reasonable expenses related to the investigation, to the extent not covered by insurance, but he refused to agree not to return to the company.
People said he told the board that unless he had a direct role as CEO from the start of a strategic review, he would not support or approve any media rights deal or sale.
Mr. McMahon retired as CEO and Chairman of WWE in July amid a board investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him. The newspaper reported that he had agreed to pay more than $12 million in confidential settlements since 2006 to his accusers.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Prosecutors Inquiries launched into payments. WWE later revealed Additional payments in 2007 and 2009 Totaling $5 million she said was unrelated to the allegations of misconduct that led to her internal investigation.
The WWE Board of Directors ultimately found that the payments, despite being made personally by Mr. McMahon, should have been booked as WWE expenses because they benefited the company.
Mr. McMahon had told people that He intended to return In WWE, the magazine reported last month. He said he received bad advice from people close to him last year to step down, according to people familiar with his comments.
Joe Palazzolo and Ted Mann contributed to this article.
Write to Lauren Thomas at [email protected]
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