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Learfield confirms IMG College merger

The Learfield Sports agency has confirmed that it has merged with the IMG College division of the WME|IMG agency.

Learfield said the merger, which was first mooted last month, will lead to the creation of a “more dynamic service provider” in the sports and entertainment market. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The two agencies manage rights for about 90 per cent of the North American universities that compete in the so-called ‘Power Five’ conferences. Learfield holds partnerships with more than 130 colleges, with IMG College representing nearly 90 universities and conferences.

IMG and Atairos, which owns Learfield, will retain ownership of the new entity. Silver Lake, a WME|IMG partner and long-term investor in the agency, will acquire a minority stake in the venture through a new capital deployment.

Substantial investments will be made to expand the range and depth of data services available to collegiate partners, according to the statement from Learfield.

The venture will provide a suite of services that includes representation and management of collegiate multimedia rights and licensing, while also protecting existing jobs and creating new opportunities for current and future employees.

Greg Brown, president and chief executive of Learfield, said: “We are excited about partnering with IMG College, and believe that this combination will enable a better, more innovative future for collegiate athletic programmes and their fans. By combining, we will be better positioned to champion the success of collegiate athletics in the years ahead through the development of new services and offerings that will provide greater benefits to our clients and brand partners than either company could do alone.

“Together, we will more efficiently assist schools in identifying and implementing methods to derive maximum value for their rights and sponsorship deals in light of greater competition with professional sports leagues and other entertainment options.”

Patrick Whitesell, co-chief executive of WME|IMG, added: “This merger will bolster the opportunities available for brands across the sports landscape and deliver greater value for our partner schools through enhanced services in areas including data, ticketing, and retail insight. We are confident that together we will better enable our partner institutions to generate much-needed revenue and look forward to furthering our investment in this space and generating enhanced value for collegiate sports.”