Is Comcast out of the running to buy WWE?

Comcast may not be in the running to buy WWE, according to a few new reports this weekend. When WWE first announced its intention to sell to a major media company, Comcast was cited as an obvious bidder given the many deals it already has with WWE to broadcast both. Monday Night Raw And NXT every week on the USA Network and houses the WWE Network library and live pay-per-views on the Peacock streaming service.

However, it now sounds like NBCUniversal’s parent company has lost interest. CNBC’s David Faber interviewed WWE CEO Nick Khan on Friday and when the topic came up Comcast claimed, “I probably don’t belong. I hate to say it. Although another name I hear is Endeavor. UFC and WWE are very robust.”

Khan tried to push back saying, “I think they’re all possible and we’re still optimistic about Comcast being possible. Obviously there’s only so much I can say at this point. But we certainly have a received a warm response to the market from people who seem interested.” He later said investors can expect the sale to be “quick,” speculating that a sale could be agreed within the next three months.

Dave Meltzer of the Observer wrestling then reiterated Faber’s report, adding that it’s in WWE’s best interest to make it sound like Comcast is still in the running for other bidders. He noted a recent Struggling Observer Radio, “They have to make it look like people want them, but Comcast is known not to do that. That could hurt sales, because that could lower the value.”

One of the big questions surrounding the WWE sale is Vince McMahon, who initially announced his retirement in July, but then approached WWE’s board of directors in December demanding to be reinstated as a member and executive chairman. WWE’s board of directors initially refused, prompting McMahon to threaten the voting rights he still has by using his Class B stock holdings to knock down any potential sale or future media rights deal. He was promptly reinstated in early January, which was followed by a major reshuffle of the WWE board, including the departure of former co-CEO Stephanie McMahon.

Khan was asked at a quarterly investor conference last week whether or not McMahon will willingly leave after the company is sold – “Yes (he will resign). Without a doubt. He’s stated it to the board, he’s told us in the It’s all about shareholder value. Obviously he’s a shareholder, so it’s not about what role he’s going to have, it’s about maximizing that value opportunity.”

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