Vince McMahon Plans to Return to WWE to Explore Sale

Former WWE CEO Vince McMahon is planning a return to the pro-wrestling promotion in order to explore a sale of the company.

McMahon, who is the majority owner of WWE, retired from his post as chief last year amid sexual misconduct accusations, leaving his daughter Stephanie McMahon to take over as chairman and co-CEO alongside Nick Khan, who previously served as the company’s president.

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As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, McMahon has informed WWE he will be electing himself to the board, as well as Michelle Wilson and George Barrios, former WWE co-presidents and directors. McMahon, who retains majority voting power at WWE through his shares in the company, plans to be named executive chairman, pending board approval, which was not given during a previous move made to reinstate McMahon.

In order for McMahon, Wilson and Barrios to successfully join the board, three current directors would need to step down from their roles.

McMahon made the following statement via a press release: “WWE is entering a critical juncture in its history with the upcoming media rights negotiations coinciding with increased industry-wide demand for quality content and live events and with more companies seeking to own the intellectual property on their platforms. The only way for WWE to fully capitalize on this opportunity is for me to return as Executive Chairman and support the management team in the negotiations for our media rights and to combine that with a review of strategic alternatives. My return will allow WWE, as well as any transaction counterparties, to engage in these processes knowing they will have the support of the controlling shareholder.”

According to the release, McMahon “sent two separate letters to the Board in late December in which he expressed the urgency of his return to the Company as Executive Chairman and his desire to work collaboratively with the Board and management team. Following conversations with representatives of the Company both before and after Mr. McMahon’s most recent letter on December 31, Mr. McMahon determined, consistent with his rights as controlling shareholder, that the steps announced today are necessary to maximize value for all WWE shareholders.”

WSJ’s sources say McMahon has told the board “unless he has direct involvement as executive chairman from the outset of a strategic review, he won’t support or approve any media-rights deal or sale.”

The WWE board has reportedly responded to McMahon saying it could "initiate a review process and would welcome working with him on it," but asked that he "confirm his commitment to repay expenses incurred by WWE related to an investigation of the allegations and requested that he agree not to return to the company during government probes of the matter."

Representatives for WWE did not immediately respond to Variety's request for comment Thursday.

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