IMG acquires ISP Sports in multi-million dollar deal

IMG Worldwide, Inc., the global sports, entertainment and media company, has acquired ISP Sports in a multi-million dollar deal.

IMG Worldwide, Inc., the global sports, entertainment and media company, has acquired ISP Sports in a multi-million dollar deal.

A definitive purchase agreement has been approved and signed by the parties. Closing is anticipated promptly following certain regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but Darren Rovell, CNBC's renowned sports business reporter, believes the deal is worth between US$80 million and US$100 million.

ISP, headquartered in Winston-Salem, NC, has marketing agreements with some of America's best-known college athletic programmes under management, in addition to conferences, events and venues across the country. With more than 275 employees, ISP is a multi-media rightsholder for Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Baylor, California, Duke, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Syracuse, UCLA, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Washington, among others.

ISP will be combined with IMG's existing college sports group, which provides marketing, licensing and media services to universities.

"We are very pleased to add ISP Sports to IMG's college sports business," said Ted Forstmann, chairman and chief executive of IMG. "Ben Sutton and his team have built a terrific company, representing some of the most prominent names in college athletics. This acquisition will complement our existing college business, which is an increasingly significant part of IMG, and demonstrates our continued focus on investing in businesses that provide substantial future growth opportunities for IMG. It will also be terrific for the college sports fan as this combination provides a great opportunity for us to provide more, better and higher quality programming, as well as expanding the base of customers."

Ben C. Sutton, Jr., the founder and chief executive of ISP, said: "I am very proud of the team and business we have built over nearly 20 years at ISP. We are excited about the potential for future growth as part of the incredible company Ted Forstmann and his team at IMG have developed over the past five years. This move will provide our client institutions the opportunity to expand new revenue growth platforms as they seek new and incremental funding sources to build and sustain competitive athletic programmes, as well as to help fund their educational programmes.  In addition, it will create tremendous benefit for our sponsors by increasing competition for national sales in the college environment, and by providing them with new and enhanced services and increased efficiency."

Sutton will become president of the newly combined business with responsibility for the day-to-day operations and development of the IMG College business enterprise.  While the division will maintain significant operations in Atlanta and Lexington, KY, the IMG College corporate headquarters will be in Winston Salem. Pat Battle, senior corporate vice president of IMG, will assume the newly created position of chairman of the IMG College Sports Division. Both Sutton and Battle will report to George Pyne, president of IMG's Sports and Entertainment Group.

"We couldn't be happier for Ben and his team to have this opportunity to join forces with IMG," said Dan Guerrero, director of athletics at UCLA and chair of the NCAA Men's Basketball Committee. "ISP has done a magnificent job for the Bruins, but this combination will create an even stronger team and should open more doors to potential national sponsors interested in college sports marketing."

Following the acquisition, the IMG College division will employ over 700 people in 75 offices throughout the U.S. with annual sales of over $400 million.