WME Taps Former Microsoft Exec Peter Klein as CFO

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Peter Klein

UPDATED: Peter Klein will be the CFO of the merged WME and IMG, as well, as backer Silver Lake reportedly takes a 51 percent stake in the combined company

On the heels of its $2.4 billion acquisition of IMG, WME has hired former Microsoft CFO Peter Klein as its new finance chief, the agency said Monday.

The appointment is effective immediately and when the WME merger with IMG is completed, Klein will be the CFO of the combined entity as well.

Klein was with Microsoft for 11 years, becoming CFO in 2009. He announced in April he was leaving the software giant. At that time, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer praised him for his ability to control costs and for his involvement in the acquisition of Skype, which Microsoft purchased from Silver Lake Partners, a WME stakeholder.

The New York Times first reported Klein's appointment at WME. The newspaper said executives of Silver Lake, a Silicon Valley private equity firm with stakes in several companies, were the ones who first thought of bringing Klein to WME.

"Peter's impressive track record and international experience will be a tremendous asset as we begin a new and exciting chapter in our company's history," WME co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell said in a joint statement Monday. "Peter's proven ability to structure and manage teams on a global scale, and bring rigor and organizational effectiveness to businesses large and small, will help to strengthen both WME and IMG."

The Times report also stated that Silver Lake, which currently owns 31 percent of WME, will own an approximate 51 percent stake in the combined agency. WME declined to comment on the ownership breakdown, but if the 51 percent stake is true, it would raise the question of whether the relationship between WME and Silver Lake will change. 

Emanuel and Whitesell are said to have been given full management control of the combined company, but Silver Lake, as majority owner and primary financial backer, could choose to initiate small or wholesale changes at the combined WME/IMG. Still unresolved is who will be charged with running the IMG side of the business.