World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon appears in the ring during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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World Wrestling Entertainment confirmed on Friday that former CEO and majority shareholder Vince McMahon will be reinstated to the company’s board.
The company’s stock spiked 17% to more than $84 a share on the news of McMahon’s comeback.
“Today, we announce that the founder of WWE, Vince McMahon, will be returning to the Board,” WWE executives said in a Friday press release.
The Board’s confirmation follows McMahon’s own announcement on Thursday that he intended to reinstate himself as executive chairman and launch an effort to sell the company. He also said he would bring back former co-presidents Michelle Wilson and George Barrios as board directors.
Three current board members, JoEllen Lyons Dillon, Jeffrey Speed and Alan M. Wexler, were removed from their positions. Two additional directors, Ignace Lahoud and Man Jit Singh, resigned from the board, effective Friday.
McMahon initially stepped down as CEO after an investigation found that he had paid nearly $15 million to four women over 16 years to quiet claims of sexual misconduct.
Even during his leave, McMahon maintained control over the company as a majority shareholder. In a November regulatory filing, WWE said, “Mr. McMahon can effectively exercise control over our affairs.”
McMahon saw a need to return to his board position as the company faces negotiations over media rights and strategic initiatives moving forward, according to The Wall Street Journal. WWE has been spotted as a target for acquisition recently.
Analysts at MKM Partners, which has a buy rating on the stock, said in a note Friday that “an immediate exploration of a sale for WWE makes a lot of sense.”
WWE confirmed Friday it would review “strategic alternatives,” but said, “There is no assurance that this process will result in a transaction.”
Shares of the company are up more than 70% in the last 12 months. The stock trades with a market capitalization of more than $6 billion. WWE is expected to report its fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 2.
(With inputs from CNBC)