PGA Tour in deal talks with Endeavor, Fenway Sports - source

FILE PHOTO: Trading information and logo for Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., May 10, 2023. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) - Endeavor Group and Boston Red Sox owner Fenway Sports Group have expressed interest in investing in the PGA Tour, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.

Any potential transaction would rival PGA's deal with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF). First unveiled in June, the deal has divided the golfing world and irked some U.S. lawmakers.

After a very public war of words, PGA, DP World Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit in June announced a shocking agreement to merge and form one unified commercial entity.

But U.S. Senators have blasted the deal as "sportswashing," where the kingdom uses sports to improve its reputation as it faces criticism of its human rights record.

PGA's talks with Endeavor and Fenway are still at an early stage, the source said, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential. The development was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Fenway declined to comment, while Endeavor did not immediately respond to a Reuters request to comment.

PGA pointed to its statement from Wednesday, where it had said its "focus continues to be on finalizing an agreement with the Public Investment Fund" even as it has received some "unsolicited interest from other investors."

Both Fenway and Endeavor are already major players in the sporting industry. Fenway owns Major League Baseball's Boston Red Sox and Premier League club Liverpool. Endeavor is the majority owner of TKO Group Holdings, a sports and entertainment company comprising the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the World Wrestling Entertainment.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar and Shweta Agarwal)

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