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Forstmann Said to Choose Morgan Stanley, Evercore for IMG Sale

Quarterback Eli Manning
Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants poses with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 5, 2012. Photographer: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Forstmann Little & Co. is working with Morgan Stanley and Evercore Partners Inc. to find a buyer for IMG Worldwide Inc., the talent agency that represents sports stars such as Peyton and Eli Manning, said people with knowledge of the matter.

The business could fetch $2 billion, said two people, who asked not to be named because the process is private. Non-disclosure agreements will probably go out to suitors in a couple of weeks, with first-round bids likely due in July, said another person.

The company, now led by Chief Executive Officer Michael Dolan, represents top athletes such as the National Football League’s Mannings and tennis champion Venus Williams, according to its website. The agency also represents models such as Gisele Bundchen and manages fashion and sports events such as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and Wimbledon.

The company was founded more than half a century ago with a handshake agreement between Mark McCormack and golfer Arnold Palmer, according to IMG’s website. Forstmann Little, the New York-based private-equity firm co-founded by the late Ted Forstmann, bought IMG in 2004 for about $750 million, according to another person.

A representative at Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Representatives at Forstmann Little and Evercore didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

Possible Suitors

George Pyne, president of IMG Sports, said about a month ago during a sports business conference that the company would probably be sold in the next four to 24 months. Pyne didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Possible suitors may include Guggenheim Partners, owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers; Silver Lake Management LLC, which has a stake in William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC; and Creative Artists Agency, part owned by private-equity firm TPG Capital, said Inner Circle Sports’s Rob Tilliss.

“Since they’ve bought it, they’ve really rationalized a lot of cost out of the equation,” said Tilliss, who founded the firm that advises on the buying and selling of professional sports teams. “Their individual business units are profitable.”

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