The Latest On The Potential WWE Sale To Saudi Arabia
By Jason Hall
January 11, 2023
Several sources with knowledge of the situation have reportedly denied WWE's sale to Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.
MMA and professional wrestling journalist Ariel Helwani said he was told that a deal isn't in place "at this precise moment" and "the organization is still exploring all options," according to sources.
"Contrary to reports stating otherwise last night, there is no deal in place at this precise moment for WWE to be sold to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund or any entity, sources say," Helwani tweeted. "The organization is still exploring all options, I’m told. Developing."
Steven Muehlhausen of DAZN Wrestling initially reported that WWE had been sold to Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and the company would go "back to being private" in a since-deleted tweet shared Tuesday (January 10) night.
Contrary to reports stating otherwise last night, there is no deal in place at this precise moment for WWE to be sold to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund or any entity, sources say.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) January 11, 2023
The organization is still exploring all options, I’m told. Developing.
The report came hours after Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of WWE founder Vince McMahon, announced that she's resigned from her position as co-CEO in a statement shared on her Twitter account Tuesday (January 10) evening.
McMahon's announcement came less than a week after her father officially returned from retirement last Friday (January 6) and prior to officially being re-elected as chairman of WWE's board of directors on Tuesday.
"About 8 months ago, I took a leave of absence and within a few weeks, unexpectedly had the opportunity of a lifetime," McMahon wrote. "I had the privilege to return as the Co-CEO and Chairwoman of the Board of WWE. I cannot put into words how proud I am to have led what I consider to be the greatest company in the word, working alongside a remarkable leadership team and one of the strongest executives I have known in my Co-CEO, Nick Khan.
Then. Now. Forever. Together. pic.twitter.com/8dqr5reIiv— Stephanie McMahon (@StephMcMahon) January 10, 2023
"I look forward to cheering on WWE from the other side of the business, where I started when I was a little kid, as a pure fan," McMahon added. "I will always remain dedicated to WWE. I truly love our company, our employees, our Superstars, and our fans. And I am grateful to all our partners.
"Thank you for everything."
Last Saturday (January 7), CNBC reported that WWE hired JPMorgan to help advise a possible sale amid Vince McMahon's return from retirement.
The move came within hours of McMahon officially returning and electing himself to WWE's board of directors on Friday (January 6).
McMahon still had majority voting power through his ownership of the company's Class-B stock, which allowed him to add himself, as well as former co-presidents and directors, Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, to WWE's board, a move required three former directors to vacate their positions.
WWE's board of directors had previously rejected a move to reinstate McMahon since his retirement last year.
McMahon announced his retirement amid a sexual-harassment scandal in an official statement shared by the company, confirming his daughter and Khan would take over as co-CEOs amid his departure.
Paul 'Triple H' Levesque, McMahon's son-in-law and a former top in-ring performer, took over WWE creative amid McMahon's departure.
In August, an SEC filing confirmed McMahon paid a total of $19.6 million in personal expenses.
The payments, which were uncovered during the company's ongoing investigation into claims of sexual misconduct committed by McMahon, made two payments in 2007 and 2009 that should have been included in the company's consolidated financial statements.
In July, the Wall Street Journal, which exclusively reported WWE's investigation a $3 million hush-money settlement paid by McMahon to a woman over an alleged affair, reported that the 76-year-old paid more than $12 million in hush money to four women during the past 16 years in an effort to suppress allegations of sexual misconduct and infidelity.
McMahon initially stepped down from his responsibilities voluntarily amid the ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct and would be replaced by his daughter on an interim basis.
Since then, McMahon had made multiple in-character appearances on both Friday Night SmackDown and Monday Night Raw, though not directly addressing the allegations or investigation and appeared publicly at the UFC 276 event in Las Vegas shortly after the conclusion of WWE's Money in the Bank event in the same city.
According to the Journal, an agreement was made in January 2022 to prevent the woman, a former WWE paralegal, from discussing her relationship with McMahon or making critical statements about him publicly.
A spokesperson for WWE confirmed to the Journal that the company was cooperating with the board's investigation -- which was launched in April -- and that the relationship between the 76-year-old and the former employee was consensual.
McMahon has been married to his wife, Linda -- who served as WWE's president and later CEO from 1980 to 2009 and later as Small Business Administration chief as part of former President Donald Trump's administration from 2017 to 2019 -- since 1966.
The Journal also reports that the board's investigation revealed other nondisclosure pacts stemming from misconduct claims involving other women who had previously worked for WWE, which involved McMahon and John Laurinaitis, WWE's general manager of talent relations, who was reportedly fired on Monday (August 8), according to PWInsider.
McMahon had previously disposed 38,519 of his shares of World Wrestling Entertainment stock at $0 following his recent retirement, but still remained the company's top shareholder, according to an SEC filing shared on WWE's official corporate website on July 26.