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Elon Musk to join board of Endeavor, owner of UFC, WME Miss Universe

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Elon Musk is being tapped to oversee Ultimate Fighting Championship, a bunch of Hollywood agents and the Miss Universe Pageant.

What could go wrong?

Tesla’s eccentric, Twitter-happy chief executive plans to join the board of Endeavor — the Hollywood conglomerate controlled by Ari Emanuel that owns a majority stake in the UFC, as well as the WME talent agency and the Miss Universe global beauty contest, a securities filing revealed late Wednesday.

The so-called S-1 filing revealed that Endeavor is looking to go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “EDR.” It has raised nearly $1.7 billion from a who’s who of high-profile, private investors including billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management, Michael Dell’s MSD Capital, Silver Lake, Tencent and Third Point.

The filing confirmed The Post’s report last week that it aims to file for an IPO early next month as part of a deal to increase its majority ownership of UFC to a full 100 percent. Endeavor scrapped a 2019 IPO a day before its shares were supposed to list, citing weak demand.

In Wednesday’s filing, however, Endeavor only vaguely explained why it believes that adding the controversial Musk to its board would be a good idea.

Miss Puerto Rico Madison Anderson, Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi and Miss Mexico Sofía Aragón
Miss Puerto Rico Madison Anderson, Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi and Miss Mexico Sofía Aragón
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In addition to Musk’s “professional background and experience running a public company,” Endeavor cited his “previously held senior executive-level positions, his service on other public company boards and his experience starting, growing and integrating businesses.”

Los Angeles-based Endeavor was also quick, however, to admit that Musk has a rocky record when it comes to corporate governance. That includes his infamous August 2018 tweet that he planned to take Tesla private for $420 a share.

The market-scrambling tweet — which amounted to a pot joke, as “420” is slang for marijuana use — got Musk a $20 million fine and banned as chairman of Tesla by the SEC for two years, Endeavor acknowledged in its Wednesday securities filing.

Nevertheless, Endeavor added, “There are no restrictions on Mr. Musk’s ability to serve as an officer or a director on a company’s board.”

Comedian Larry David (2nd L) and Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel (2nd R) at the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors during the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2019 in Los Angeles.
Comedian Larry David (2nd L) and Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel (2nd R) at the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors during the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2019 in Los Angeles.
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According to sources close to the situation, Musk and Emanuel have connections in common that include Egon Durban, the co-CEO of private equity firm Silver Lake. Musk consulted Durban, who helped bankroll Michael Dell’s buyout of his computer company, when he was mulling the idea of taking Tesla private. At the time, Musk also spoke to Dell, himself, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal

Meanwhile, as reported exclusively by The Post, Silver Lake owns a 35 percent stake in Endeavor and a 20 percent stake in the UFC. Endeavor is looking to buy out those stakes and take 100-percent control of UFC as part of its bid to IPO. Dell also owns a 2 percent stake in the MMA company. 

Musk also has some other chance connections to Endeavor. Pop star Grimes, his girlfriend and baby mama, is repped by WME. The couple has also been spotted together at UFC matches, and UFC president Dana White has traded tweets with Musk. Recently, White told reporters that he thought the Tesla CEO was a “badass” for reopening Tesla’s car manufacturing plant in California during the pandemic. 

“Didn’t he open it and say come arrest me? I love it,” White said at a press conference last May.

UFC Champion Francis Ngannou
UFC Champion Francis Ngannou
Zuffa LLC

Musk has also appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast several times, sometimes smoking weed, to gab on a host of topics that have included MMA. In a recent interview, Musk told a surprised Rogan that he practiced martial arts as a kid and has been a fan of “the first MMA fights,” particularly those of UFC hall of fame fighter Royce Gracie.

“He [Gracie] was winning against people way bigger and that kind of thing. And it was just like “Whoa, this is cool,” Musk said. “I sent my kids to jujitsu since they were like, I don’t know, six.”

Endeavor also revealed in its filing that Fawn Weaver, an investor and author of “Happy Wives Club,” would also be joining the board.

According to the filing, Endeavor pulled in $3.5 billion in revenue last year and it logged a $625.3 million net loss. That’s versus the year-earlier $4.6 billion in revenue and a net loss of $530.7 million.

An Endeavor rep declined to comment on Wednesday.

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Tesla more than doubles Q1 sales, delivers 185,000 vehicles

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Tesla says it delivered nearly 185,000 electric vehicles in the first quarter despite a shortage of computer chips that has hit the global auto industry.

The number was more than double the deliveries for the same period last year. And it beat Wall Street estimates of 168,000 for January through March. The company says in a statement that the Model Y small SUV in China has been well received.

Tesla lists no production figures for its older models, the S sedan and X SUV, during the quarter, but it delivered just over 2,000 of them. It says new equipment has been installed at the Fremont, California, factory and production of new versions is in the early stages.

The strong sales are a sign that demand for the company’s relatively expensive vehicles remains strong despite the pandemic. Analysts polled by data provider FactSet estimate that the average selling price of a Tesla is $49,100.

Shares of Tesla are down more than 9 percent so far this year as some of the shine wore off electric vehicle and tech stocks, which had experienced a big runup last year. The stock closed Thursday down just under 1 percent at $661.75. Markets are closed for the Good Friday holiday.

Tesla Model 3s (seen here) and its Model Y accounted for nearly all of Tesla's first-quarter sales.
Tesla Model 3s (seen here) and its Model Y accounted for nearly all of Tesla’s first-quarter sales.
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

Tesla sold just under 500,000 vehicles last year, barely missing a target set by CEO Elon Musk. The company hasn’t given much guidance for this year’s sales figures.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the first-quarter numbers a “jaw dropper,” and a huge home run in the eyes of bullish investors. “We believe China and Europe were particularly robust this quarter as the trajectory now puts Musk & Co. to exceed 850k for the year which is well ahead of whisper expectations,” he wrote Friday.

The Model 3 small car and the Model Y accounted for nearly all of the Palo Alto, California, company’s first-quarter sales. Tesla said it sold 182,780 of both models combined.

Ives wrote that analysts expected more than 12,000 sales of Models S and X, with the miss driven by the chip shortage.

The strong sales came even though the company shut down much of its Fremont production for several weeks in late February and early March. It did not say why, but it’s likely that the company ran short of computer chips.

President Joe Biden’s announcement this week of $174 billion in spending on electric vehicle incentives and charging stations, and rising global demand for electric vehicles should shift sentiment toward Tesla stock, Ives wrote.

“It’s been a brutal sell-off for Tesla and EVs, but we believe that will now be in the rearview mirror,” he wrote.

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55 firms paid no federal income tax last year, report finds

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Dozens of America’s biggest companies paid no federal income taxes last year thanks to a range of tax breaks — including some brand-new ones, a new report says.

The 55 corporations avoided a total of $8.5 billion in taxes on more than $40 billion in pre-tax profits in their most recent fiscal year, according to the Friday report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

In fact, 52 of those firms — including household names such as Nike, FedEx and Dish Network — ended up pocketing federal tax rebates worth a collective $3.5 billion, the left-leaning think tank’s analysis found.

And 26 of them haven’t paid a penny in federal income tax in the three years since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reform bill was signed into law in 2017, the report says. That group includes shipping giant FedEx and power company Duke Energy, which reported nearly $15 billion in pre-tax income for those three years, according to the findings.

Nike sneakers
Nike is among dozens of major corporations reported to be paying little to no federal income taxes.
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“Duke Energy fully complies with federal and state tax laws as part of our efforts to make investments that will benefit our customers and communities,” company spokesperson Catherine Butler said, adding that Duke paid more than $2 billion in annual state and local taxes in 2020.

Major companies have used loopholes in federal tax law to help their bottom line for decades, the think tank’s researchers note. But they got a fresh boon from the CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill that aimed to help businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Big firms were able to take advantage of a provision in the bill to use losses they racked up in 2018 or 2019 to offset profits from previous years, which slashed some of their 2020 tax bills to less than zero, according to the report. That measure accounted for at least $500 million of the 55 giants’ tax breaks, the report says.

FedEx stood by the CARES Act tax breaks, saying the law helped it and other companies “navigate a rapidly changing economy and marketplace while continuing to invest in capital, hire team members, and fund employee pension plans.”

FedEx truck
FedEx is said to be among major firms pocketing federal tax rebates while avoiding federal income taxes.
Alamy Stock Photo

But many companies also used more established methods for giving themselves tax discounts.

Those include write-offs for paying executives in stock, which were used by more than a dozen companies, while at least half a dozen took federal research and experimentation credits, the report says.

The list included some companies hit hard by the pandemic, including crafts retailer Michaels, as well as companies that thrived despite the lockdowns, like Salesforce.com, the cloud computing company that announced record 2020 earnings in February.

Salesforce logo
Salesforce is reported to be among thriving firms able to take advantage of numerous write-offs.
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By reining in tax breaks like those, “or by re-introducing some form of a ‘minimum tax’ requiring profitable companies to pay at least some tax in any profitable year, Congress and President Biden could take a major step toward a fairer and more sustainable tax system,” authors Matthew Gardner and Steve Wamhoff wrote in the report.

Salesforce, Michaels, Nike and Dish Network did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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China admonishes H&M over ‘problematic’ map on website

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Swedish retailer H&M continues to clash with Beijing, this time over how it has portrayed the region geographically.

Chinese officials admonished H&M Friday over a “problematic” map on the company’s website in the latest sign of escalating tensions after the Swedish retailer criticized China’s controversial cotton-picking region.

Shanghai government regulators summoned H&M managers to a meeting after internet users complained about the map, officials said on social media.

Chinese officials did not provide any detail about the alleged offense, which they said H&M managers quickly corrected.

But H&M got in trouble with China in 2018 for listing Taiwan as a country on the Taiwanese version of its website. China claims the democratic island country is part of its territory.

H&M was told to “bolster its awareness of the national territory, and really ensure the standardized use of the Chinese map,” the Cyberspace Administration of China’s Shanghai arm said in a post on the WeChat social network, according to The Wall Street Journal.

H&M did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

The map flap is just the latest headache H&M has faced in China, the fast-fashion retailer’s top clothing supplier and its fourth-largest market by sales.

The company was hit with boycott threats last week and had its products pulled from Chinese e-commerce platforms over a statement it made last year saying it does not source cotton from the Xinjiang region, where Beijing has been accused of forced labor practices against Uyghur Muslims.

H&M tried to tamp down the backlash Wednesday with a new statement saying it’s “dedicated to regaining the trust and confidence” of its customers, colleagues and business partners in China, where its store locations were reportedly scrubbed from digital maps last week.

The company said it wants to be “a responsible buyer, in China and elsewhere,” but did not mention Xinjiang specifically.

With Post wires

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