The bad news keeps on coming at WME, Ari Emanuel’s glitzy Hollywood talent agency.
Formerly known as William Morris Endeavor, the agency that represents stars like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Rihanna, Matt Damon and Christian Bale will slash about 300 jobs, or 20 percent of its workforce, the company said late Thursday.
The job cuts, which will begin on Monday, follow a previous announcement that parent company Endeavor has furloughed or cut the pay of 2,500 employees who make up one-third of its 7,500-person workforce.
At the time, The Post exclusively reported that those measures would save Endeavor about $100 million, but now, adding in the WME job cuts, a well-placed source put the savings at $150 million. A source said some higher-up agency employees would be getting “softer exits with jobs at smaller non-agency firms” or management companies.
A source close to WME said the majority of the layoffs were not from the agent ranks, but instead, executives in departments such as business affairs, legal and finance, as well as support staff.
A rep from the company declined to comment on the cost savings and the specifics of the layoffs.
“WME is reducing its workforce by approximately 20 percent as a result of COVID-19’s impact on our business,” the company said in a statement. “We appreciate the contributions of our former colleagues, and out of respect for their privacy, we will not be commenting on the status of specific employees. While we are making these difficult decisions now to safeguard our business, we believe in the resilience of our team and our industry.”
The news comes as Endeavor is trying to raise $250 million by June in order to fund daily operational duties like paying rent and payroll, The Post learned last month. Endeavor, which owns half of Ultimate Fighting Championship in addition to controlling the William Morris talent agency and the Miss Universe pageant, is also mulling selling some of its lucrative stake in Epic Games, the maker of blockbuster video game “Fortnite.” That sale could bring Endeavor as much as $80 million, a source said.
The mad scramble for cash comes as Endeavor’s business, which is rooted in live events and production, has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus lockdown.
On April 14, S&P Global Ratings slashed its rating of Endeavor, which has $4.6 billion in debt, to the middle of the junk bond range and called into question the firm’s future viability.
“Endeavor … and subsidiary UFC Holdings LLC have meaningful exposure to entertainment, content production, and live events, many of which have been canceled, postponed, or temporarily suspended due to restrictions on group gatherings,” the report said. “These restrictions will likely cause Endeavor’s revenue to fall significantly in the near term.”
The tough time follows a difficult year for Endeavor, which tried and failed to go public. Leading up to the initial public offering last fall, Emanuel had hoped he could raise as much as $600 million, to be used in part to pay down debt. But Emanuel and his partner Patrick Whitesell pulled Endeavor’s IPO in September due to slumping demand.
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