Endeavor Poised to Buy Chinese Sports Digital Agency Mailman

Endeavor China, part of talent, sports and media agency Endeavor, is poised to acquire the Chinese firm Mailman Group.

The Shanghai-based Mailman is a sports digital agency that covers strategy and marketing, content production, management of social media accounts, influencer marketing, sponsorship activation, PR and communications.

The transaction is reported to be valued at $60 million and will be effected through Endeavor China, according to Sports Business, which first reported the deal. Contacted by Variety, Endeavor sources said the transaction hadn’t yet been completed.

Endeavor China was founded in 2016 and has an ownership structure that includes Sequoia Capital China, Tencent and FountainVest Partners.

Mailman claims high-profile clients including soccer teams Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain, as well as owners and leagues including the Endeavor-owned Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League.

Mailman was founded in 1997 as a print marketing firm, but was acquired in 2007 by Australia’s Andrew Collins. Under Collins’ leadership the company has become more digitally focused.

The company raised $25 million in a 2016 funding round and in 2018 acquired U.K. consultancy firm Seven League. Its clients include soccer teams and leagues (including the English Premier League, Bundesliga), as well as the NBA, the NFL and UFC.

Sports Business reports that completion of the deal was initially delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. This year, another hold-up may have been parent company Endeavor’s IPO. It launched on the New York Stock Exchange in April and is due to report its maiden quarterly figures as a public company next week (June 2).

Many sports clubs and franchises use separate marketing teams in China. That is due not only to language differences or to the size of the total addressable market. It is also due to the (official) unavailability in China of western social media services such as Twitter and Instagram and the development behind the Great Firewall of different platforms and distinct Chinese patterns of communications such as live streaming and influencer marketing.

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