Forstmann Little & Co. attracted first-round bids for the talent agency IMG Worldwide Inc. from Silver Lake Management LLC, TPG Capital, CVC Capital Partners Ltd. and KKR & Co., people familiar with the matter said.
Initial, nonbinding expressions of interest were due Sept. 30 and give potential buyers access to financial data on the company, which could fetch more than $2 billion, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private.
The auction pits two Hollywood talent-management companies and their private-equity investors against each other. Silver Lake is teaming up with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC, while TPG is joining with Creative Artists Agency, said the people. CVC Capital, KKR and other private equity firms have also bid, one person said.
Forstmann Little hired Morgan Stanley and Evercore Partners Inc. in May as advisers for a possible sale, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time. In August, the New York-based private-equity firm announced it was considering a range of options. The company’s founder, Ted Forstmann, died in November 2011.
In crafting their offers, Silver Lake and TPG can consider potential cost savings from combining the talent agencies they already own with New York-based IMG, one of the people said. More than 20 bids were entered, according to one of the people.
Owen Blicksilver, an outside spokesman for TPG, declined comment, as did Allison Gunther, an outside spokeswoman for CVC Capital. Gemma Hart, an outside spokeswoman for Silver Lake, Kathleen Broderick, a Forstmann Little director, and Kristi Huller from KKR didn’t immediately return e-mails and calls seeking comment.
The auction stalled this summer as Forstmann Little representatives sought to ensure they had control of the sale and were present in meetings with all potential buyers, as opposed to letting IMG managers handle the process, according to a person familiar with the matter.
IMG, led by Chief Executive Officer Michael Dolan, represents the National Football League’s Eli and Peyton Manning and tennis champion Venus Williams. The company also manages models, and fashion and sports events.
Forstmann Little bought IMG in 2004 for about $750 million, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The agency was founded more than half a century ago with a handshake agreement between Mark McCormack and golfer Arnold Palmer, according to its website.