Sports Business : WME-IMG to cut workforce by 20%

Talent agency WME will cut its workforce by about 20 per cent, continuing a difficult  stretch for parent company Endeavor that has been sharply heightened by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

This will include some big sports and celebrity agents. The cause is the coronavirus fallout that has shut down sporting events, productions, movie theaters and live arenas event, starving the debt-heavy parent company Endeavor of most of its revenue streams.

A spokesman confirmed this “WME is reducing its workforce by approximately 20% as a result of COVID-19’s impact on our business. We appreciate the contributions of our former colleagues, and out of respect for their privacy, we will not be commenting on the status of specific employees. While we are making these difficult decisions now to safeguard our business, we believe in the resilience of our team and our industry.”

These layoffs were no surprise. The overall company, which employs 7500 and has holdings that include talent agency WME, the UFC, sports and sports and fashion management firm IMG and the Professional Bull Riders, has been setting the stage for this for some time. Among the moves was an initial layoff of 250 staffers in late March. On April 1, they announced that Endeavor president Mark Shapiro would take a 50% pay cut. UFC has only been a bright spot as it has a deal with ESPN that brings in regular payments.

The staff cuts will include all personnel at all levels and all departments, including the agency’s sports representation business.

The moves continues a turbulent period for Endeavor. After pulling its planned US initial public offering last fall, the company has also seen its credit rating downgraded.