Kelly promoted in IMG Media & Events reshuffle, Francini becomes chairman

The IMG agency has announced changes at the top of its media and events operations, including the promotion of Adam Kelly to co-president of ‘IMG Media & Events’ as Ioris Francini, currently president of IMG Media, becomes chairman of the agency’s media activities.

Kelly and Sam Zussman were today named as the joint heads of a renamed IMG Media & Events unit.

Adam Kelly

The reshuffle represents the latest promotion for Kelly, who was appointed at the end of 2016 to lead global sales at the IMG Media division.

Zussman became president of IMG Events just under three years ago as Francini was also promoted in a restructure following the agency’s $2.3bn (€2.1bn) takeover by talent agent William Morris Endeavor and private equity firm Silver Lake.

Mark Shapiro, Endeavor president, said: “Adam and Sam bring a combined 30+ years of experience and leadership that will prove invaluable in fostering greater collaboration among these two naturally complementary businesses and providing our clients and partners with a shared set of best-in-class experts and resources.”

On the change of position for Francini, Shapiro added: “With added counsel from Ioris as media chairman, we’re looking forward to this next phase of growth for two of IMG’s core businesses.”

Sam Zussman

An ‘IMG Events & Media’ moniker was introduced in the middle of 2014 as the two divisions combined and as Michel Masquelier, himself a former president of IMG Media, became chairman of the combined operation. It is understood that Masquelier will work as a “strategic adviser” following the latest rejig.

The events and media businesses, which are both based at IMG’s London offices, were initially brought together in a bid to bolster IMG’s core businesses and create stability following WME’s purchase. The renewed push for closer co-operation between the two business sectors comes amid the broadening of media and content generally, creating more of a natural crossover between businesses.

The mid- to long-term future of Francini in the business will certainly be called into question by today’s announcement. It is thought that he will remain an IMG member of staff and will be involved in day-to-day operations.

Francini took centre stage at IMG in 2014 upon being promoted to president of IMG Media in the first major restructure that followed the agency’s change of ownership. He then stepped up just over three years ago to become co-president of WME-IMG, alongside Shapiro. Having initially pursued a legal career in the film industry, Francini has dedicated his career in sport to IMG alone. He has worked at the agency in various guises for nearly 17 years.

Kelly, who joined IMG in 2001, had already been promoted at the end of 2016 to lead global sales at the IMG Media division. In the middle of 2014, Kelly was awarded a position as head of sales in the EMEA region and business development worldwide. In 2012, he was named senior vice-president of global development, switching from his post as senior vice-president, marketing and commercial director.

On Kelly specifically, IMG said: “Over the years, he has played a pivotal role in growing IMG’s blue-chip media client roster of sports leagues, federations, and organizations, as well as bringing to life new joint ventures like Euroleague and overseeing the growth of UFC’s international media.”

Along with his various media rights roles, Kelly has also held positions in research, contracting and financial service during his time at IMG.

Zussman also secured a promotion just under three years ago when he was named president of IMG’s Events division, having previously been executive vice-president. He arrived at IMG in 2006 after five years at management consultants McKinsey & Company. In becoming president of IMG Events, he still retained his duties overseeing IMG Academy, the agency’s sports and educational performance unit.

IMG said: “Most recently as president of the company’s Events division, Zussman has overseen a growing portfolio that includes sporting events across tennis, golf, motorsports, action sports, football, rugby, and the Professional Bull Riders (PBR); as well as the company’s arts and entertainment properties including Frieze Art Fairs, The Miss Universe Organization, museum exhibitions, esports events, and music and culinary festivals.”

Both Zussman and Kelly will report to Shapiro.