WWE could be up for sale, and the rumored buyer has given the company a worse reputation.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is rumored to purchase the company from Vince McMahon, who is the majority owner, and his Class-B shares grant him majority voting power, so any sale would have to be approved by him.
There has been no official word on this, and Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston and journalist Ariel Helwani refuted original reporting on a sale to the PIF. But WWE’s stock dropped 0.64% as of 1:43 p.m. ET on Wednesday in response to those rumors.
The thought of a sale escalated when Stephanie McMahon stepped down as chairwoman and co-CEO on Tuesday. Her father, Vince McMahon, assumed back his role as executive chairman and Nick Khan remained as the lone CEO of WWE. McMahon resigned as chairman and CEO of the company in July due to his hush-money scandal, where he attempted to cover up his alleged misconduct.
Multiple board members resigned or were replaced prior to Stephanie’s removal as Vince returned to the company last week. His stated reasoning was to set up shareholders well during the company’s media rights negotiations this year.
It might seem strange to an outside observer when presented with the idea of McMahon selling WWE. This is a family company going back to his father and something he has built over the decades.
It also might seem strange to those on the outside as to why McMahon would come back. WWE’s stock rose after his resignation, and the trio of Stephanie, Khan and his son-in-law Paul Levesque, aka Triple H, guided the company to record revenue in 2022.
But therein lies the core of why Vince would return: power. McMahon’s influence has been all over WWE since he took over the company from his father in the 1980s. It’s hard to think of the company without mentioning him.
It would not be a surprise if it burned into McMahon’s psyche that the company he owns was doing well when he wasn’t in charge. He also was not welcomed. When he sent letters in December to state his intention to return, the board agreed McMahon’s return was not a good idea. But the majority owner stepped in anyway.
Now, why would he approve of sale of a company? A likely scenario in the purchase of WWE would be to shift it back to private, which likely is why there has not been official word because shareholders must be informed.
McMahon would be fine with selling off the company if he remains in power of creative. The 77-year-old’s involvement in investor calls dwindled over the years, while he handed the reigns over the Khan and his daughter to speak to stock analysts.
His main focus was the on-screen product. Taking the company private would absolve him of executive duty and prevent any lawsuits from shareholders, like what was reported Tuesday where a law firm believes McMahon and the board of directors breached their fiduciary duties regarding the chairman’s investigations.
This is a person who has multiple sexual assault and misconduct allegations and has overseen multiple cases of labor abuse under his reign. Owen Hart died at the1999 Over The Edge pay-per-view, and McMahon kept the show going.
McMahon’s profile and history have been well documented and known, and it’s something that’s generally given a “who cares” attitude or many choose to ignore that and celebrate the man for his accomplishments. It’s why fans chant “Thank you, Vince,” but that’s precisely why the company believes it can get away with anything, even sell to the PIF, despite Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses.
For decades, McMahon has shaped the history of pro wrestling. It would only be fitting if WWE were to be part of a country’s sportswashing ploy with its chairman at the helm.