WWE Confirms Vince McMahon Return; Former CEO Ejects Three From Board, Two Others Resign

WWE today confirmed the return of Vince McMahon to its board and said it’s removed three directors to make room for the former CEO and two of his allies.

“Today, we announce that the founder of WWE, Vince McMahon, will be returning to the Board,” said WWE chair and co-CEO Stephanie McMahon, co-CEO Nick Khan and chief content officer Paul Levesque. “We also welcome back Michelle Wilson and George Barrios to our Board of Directors. Together, we look forward to exploring all strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value.”

McMahon signaled his return yesterday but said he doesn’t intend for it “to have any impact on [current management’s] roles, duties, or responsibilities.”

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“In connection with the change in the composition of the Board of Directors and in cooperation with Vince McMahon as majority shareholder, the Company intends to undertake a review of its strategic alternatives with the goal being to maximize value for all WWE shareholders. There is no assurance that this process will result in a transaction,” WWE said inwhat it called an “Update Regarding Composition of Its Board of Directors and Exploration of Strategic Alternatives” in this odd, unfolding saga.  

It said McMahon, in his capacity as controlling shareholder, “has removed JoEllen Lyons Dillon, Jeffrey R. Speed and Alan M. Wexler from the Board” to add McMahon, Barrios and Wilson. Two other board members, Ignace Lahoud and Man Jit Singh, have resigned, effective today.

McMahon stepped down as CEO and chairman of the board last July amid a scandal over sexual misconduct and board investigation over payouts to women. He felt that was a mistake and the product of bad advice, the WSJ said. Yesterday, McMahon said he was taking steps to return as executive chairman and that his new role “will enable unified decision making through the company’s upcoming media rights negotiations and a parallel full review of the company’s strategic alternatives, which Mr. McMahon believes is the right course of action and in the best interests of WWE and WWE shareholders amidst the current dynamics in the media and entertainment industry.”

Weekly shows Monday Night Raw and NXT, which air on NBCUniversal’s USA Network, and Friday Night SmackDown on Fox, have five-year deals ending in 2024. Peacock, which absorbed the WWE’s previous stand-alone streaming network in 2021, retains streaming rights to the wrestling circuit through 2026. The strategic thinking about a larger M&A transaction is that instead of spending $600 million to $700 million on WWE rights, a partner might be more interested in buying the company outright.

WWE shares popped yesterday on the reports and are up more than 20% at midday.

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