(NewsNation) — The focus of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) drama has left the ring and entered the boardroom as sale rumors and family power struggles capped off a week of upheaval in the world’s largest wrestling organization.
Rumors of the sale of WWE to the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia sent shares surging as much as 7% before falling when the rumors turned out to be mere speculation.
The PIF is the same fund backed by the Saudi government that recently rocked the PGA when it started LIV Golf. PIF has also invested heavily in Formula One racing.
The WWE, however, indicated a sale was likely last week with the shake-up of their board.
“Vince McMahon, he is coming back, and it appears to be just in this one role and spearheading the rights negotiations and a potential sale,” said POST Wrestling reporter John Pollock.
McMahon’s return to the board was announced last week, several months after he retired in disgrace when an internal investigation determined the longtime CEO and chairman spent millions of dollars in company money on alleged hush payments.
“There are multiple allegations against Vince McMahon and essentially he is coming back, and without any apology towards this, without any denial of the allegations, and he is not facing any consequences,” said Pollock. “In fact, he is being rewarded for coming back.”
On Tuesday, McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon, announced her resignation as WWE co-CEO. That same day, the company said her father had enough votes to become executive chairman of the board.
The WWE is currently in the middle of a 10-year deal with Saudi Arabia and holds two large-scale events annually in the country.
Critics say the Saudi government’s interest in the WWE is another example of using entertainment to reform its public image.
If a WWE sale were to happen, it wouldn’t be an overnight development. As a publicly traded company, that information would have to be reported to shareholders.