Vince McMahon leveraged his influence as WWE’s controlling shareholder to get back on the Board of Directors and that came as a shock to the pro wrestling world. The billionaire also brought back Michelle Wilson and George Barrios with him.
WWE held an all hands on deck meeting several hours before SmackDown to address the situation. Stephanie McMahon, Frank Riddick and Nick Khan led the meeting. Here’s the complete transcript of the meeting, courtesy of Wrestlenomics.
A recording of the all-employees meeting that took place today at 3:45 pm ET was provided to Wrestlenomics, which we transcribe below. Stephanie McMahon seems to have spoken for a short time before our transcript begins. Aside from those possibly missing comments, this transcript reflects the entirety of the 7- to 8-minute meeting led by Stephanie McMahon, Nick Khan, and Frank Riddick, in which they addressed corporate employees on the return of Vince McMahon to WWE’s board of directors.
Stephanie McMahon (WWE Co-CEO): Vince McMahon is coming back to the board of directors. He has made it clear upon his return what he’s really most excited about is the media rights opportunity in front of us that we’ve all been discussing and tying that to a strategic alternative process. And we wanted to make sure we got with everyone as soon as possible so you were aware of this message and also so we can explain a little bit more about it. And hopefully, we can answer questions moving forward. This format doesn’t allow for it. But, Frank, I kick it to you. I’m not going to attempt to explain strategic alternatives. I’d do a very basic level. Frank has the details, so go ahead, Frank.
Frank Riddick (WWE President, Chief Financial Officer): Sure, so at a very high level, what Vince has proposed and the process that would be followed would be to engage with a banker and prepare some background information on the company and present that to various potential partners for the company to evaluate whether there are any strategic transactions that would enhance the value of the company to all constituencies, including shareholders. And the idea is, as Steph said, the timing of this is largely driven around the upcoming media rights renewal and to do something that could enhance, in addition, those renewal discussions. So that would include — when we say “strategic initiatives”, “strategic alternatives” for the company — could include a broad range of potential transactions, everything from a combination with another company, an acquisition of the company by someone, or a take-private transaction, taking the company private and/or just simply some sort of cooperation joint venture agreement. So it’s pretty broad and I just would add a couple of things to that. One is, of course, there’s no assurance that any transaction will actually happen or any transaction will be forthcoming that makes economic and strategic sense for the company. And, of course, Vince is the controlling shareholder and controls the vote of the stock of the company is the ultimate decider as to whether there’s a transaction that can happen. So just to close out, all this from Nick and Steph and my perspective is very positive for the company. It’s a great time to look at alternatives and make sure that the company is well-positioned for the future. I think as everybody is aware, there’s a lot of changes that have happened in the media landscape in the last couple of years, even in the last six months. And there’s probably from a value of content perspective never a better time in history for the company to look at something like this. So hopefully that gives you a better perception of what that means.
Stephanie McMahon: Thanks, Frank. And then, Nick, how does that work as it’s tied to media rights and why is that a great strategic opportunity for us?
Nick Khan (WWE Co-CEO): Thanks, Steph, so these things work hand-in-hand with one another. For example, since our U.S. media rights are up in October of ‘24, for any conglomerate — so think Disney, Comcast, Netflix, etcetera — any conglomerate that might be interested in WWE would be interested in purchasing the company outright. They very well may be interested in doing a media rights deal, but obviously, we couldn’t do a media rights deal, let’s say, with Comcast and then go sell to Disney. Those sort of companies would want to make some sort of acquisition prior to those media rights being up. So the timing is spot on for that. In terms of the day-to-day of the company, nothing is changing. Steph is in her role, I’m in my role, Frank’s in his role, Paul is in his role, Kevin Dunn is in his role. And we would ask everyone to stay focused on the business as hand [sic]. We’re going to engage in this process. We’re going to look at it with open eyes and open hearts. We’re going to ultimately see what’s out there. And Vince will make his decision, as Frank said, as the controlling shareholder, as to what he wants to do with the company. For now, let’s focus on business as hand, if we could.
Stephanie McMahon: Great, thanks, Nick. This feels so formal since none of us are in the same room. And I just wanted to add also, rejoining the board is Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, who for those of you who were here remember them as co-presidents. They have so many years of experience here in WWE. And they’ve now been off on their own creating their own business and have a lot to offer from a media standpoint, certainly from an M&A standpoint. So they will be — and they’re very familiar with the company — so they will be joining the board, not management, as Nick was spelling out. So again the management structure stays the same, but Vince has joined the board, and obviously, as the controlling shareholder. And again, I just wanted to wrap up with reinforcing, a) there may have been a lag on this video, so just to let you know it has been recorded and will be shared if you missed anything; b) when Frank talks about how well-positioned WWE is and our performance, the reason why we’re doing so well is, again, because of all of you, because of our employees, who bring everything that they have to table every single day. And we’re just, we’re grateful, we’re appreciative, and we want you to know that our employees are incredibly important to us, and we recognize all of your contributions, and you will be well-informed throughout this process. We don’t want there to be — obviously there’s going to be some animosity — or not animosity, angst, natural emotions that you might feel, and we want to make sure that we’re on top of this and we’re communicating with you and everyone has all the information that they need. So again thank you to all of you. This is an exciting time. It shouldn’t be a scary time. It’s an exciting time for WWE. Our founder is back on the board and is going to help lead this process. And thank you to all of you. It’s an exciting way to kick-off 2023.’
As previously reported, Vince’s return did not alter the roles of top WWE officials including Triple H, who retained his position as Chief Creative Officer. Stay tuned to Ringside News for more.
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