Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment soared Tuesday after an analyst report pointed out that Dutch reality show mogul John de Mol has snapped up 6% of the company’s stock.
WWE shares rose as high as $22.30 each Tuesday (up 10.6%, or $2.13 each) after BTIG media analyst Brandon Ross issued a report that said an investment company headed by de Mol – Talpa Beheer BV – recently disclosed that it has purchased a 6% stake in the wrestling enterprise. Shares closed at $22.23, up 10.2% or $2.06 each.
de Mol is the co-founder of Dutch reality show pioneer Endemol, creator of reality icons Big Brother, Fear Factor and Deal or No Deal. Endemol was sold to Telefonica in 2000 for about $6 billion. After leaving Endemol, de Mol formed Talpa Media, which created another slew of reality-type programming, including The Voice. He sold Talpa Media to British commercial broadcaster ITV in March for $544 million, which could grow to $1.2 billion if he stays with the company for 8 years and reaches predetermined performance targets.
Wall Street was intrigued by de Mol’s interest in WWE, especially since its pro wrestling programming seems to fit perfectly with the fare that the Dutch mogul has developed in the past.
In his report Ross speculated that de Mol could merely want to keep a passive stake in WWE, but that his input on programming would be invaluable, adding that WWE revived its Tough Enough reality series in June which would seem to be right in the Dutch mogul’s wheelhouse. Another possibility? That ITV could be interested in a relationship with WWE. Ross notes that John Malone's LIberty Media owns a 9.9% interest in ITV, which has sparked some speculation that it would be interested in acquiring ITV.
“WWE does seem to be a good fit for ITV given their strategy of buying content producers with global and/or digital appeal,” Ross wrote. “ITV has been very acquisitive, especially in the United States, even allowing certain companies to run as independent entities while leveraging the infrastructure of the parent company. This is exactly what ITV has done with Talpa Media.”
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