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He joined IMG, the granddaddy of the sports agency world, in the early 2000s through its Trans World International events arm. In 2007, he was made Head of Sales for the EMEA region for IMG Media.
By 2010, he had been made a Senior Vice President and Head of Sales worldwide at IMG Media, and in 2012 he was made an Executive Vice President with the added responsibility of heading up acquisitions, a not inconsiderable show of trust given the risk inherent in rights arbitrage.
When the William Morris Endeavour (WME) agency bought IMG in December 2013, Francini was on the rise again, becoming president of IMG’s events and media division, before, last year, taking a new role as Co-President of the whole shebang.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Francini covers:
– Last year’s acquisition of the UFC in a reported $4 billion deal. How will WME | IMG make a return?
– How the decision-making process works at the global agency, between himself and the organisation’s other Co-President, Mark Shapiro, and its high profile Co-CEOs, Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell;
– A new method for doing business in China: WME | IMG’s 2.0 approach to the region;
– OTT, Amazon, DAZN, and BAMTech; the blurring of the traditional media rights and distribution boundaries; and the unbalancing of an industry;
– How the agency is progressing with its relationships in cycling, its commercial link-up with Giro d’Italia organiser RCS Sport, and its plans to re-engineer cycling’s early season spring classics;
– How WME | IMG shook up Euroleague basketball and reaped the rewards;
– The rumours that WME | IMG is heading for an IPO.
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