Hollywood agency CAA acquires rival ICM to create film powerhouse

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The Creative Artists Agency says it will take over the competing talent group ICM, which unites two powerful agent stables amid sweeping changes in Hollywood and the global sports industry.

The deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year, comes after talent agencies were forced to lay off staff due to the pandemic suspension of live events and costly delays in filmed productions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

It would be the first major talent group merger since the William Morris Agency merged with Endeavor in 2009. Endeavor, led by Hollywood impresario Ari Emanuel, was supported by private equity group Silver Lake for a decade and went on sale in April the stock exchange. It has a market cap of $ 12.5 billion.

“This is having a seismic impact in Hollywood that must surely get the people talking at Endeavor,” said Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants.

The deal brings CAA’s clients – including Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg – under one roof with ICM’s Samuel L. Jackson, Olivia Colman and Uma Thurman.

Private equity firm TPG invested in CAA in 2010 and four years later took a majority stake in a transaction that valued the talent agency at more than $ 1 billion. This deal came about when financial investors sought ways to capitalize on content rights that grew in value as music and video streaming created new ways to monetize artists’ back catalogs and sparked a boom in television production.

The CAA-ICM deal comes to another tipping point where Hollywood studios are launching their own streaming platforms, potentially challenging the traditional way actors are paid for their work.

This summer, Johansson filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney after it was released Black widow on Disney + at the same time as the cinema release. Johansson claimed the decision cost her a bonus tied to the box office sales. Disney says the suit has “no merit”.

Bryan Lourd, CAA co-chairman, said he hoped such changes in the media industry would result in a “better world” for the agency’s clients.

“We are very excited about the opportunities our customers have in this new world order, and a driving principle behind bringing the companies together is to meet this challenge of the future,” he added.

Last year, ICM acquired London-based ICM Stellar Sports, which has 800 customers including a number of soccer stars from Chelsea’s Saúl Ñíguez to Manchester City’s Jack Grealish. His strength in the English Premier League complements CAA’s dominance in North American sport.

With the acquisition of the Ultimate Fighting Championship of the mixed martial arts league, Endeavor went beyond simply representing athletes. Emanuel said at a Goldman Sachs media conference last week that he sees a great opportunity in sports betting too, an area that traditional agencies are unlikely to venture into.

Schiffer said the question for CAA-ICM is whether they would try to expand with additional acquisitions to compete with Endeavor and its public market valuation.

“What does it mean? Are you considering other acquisitions like Endeavor with UFC? ”He said.

Still, CAA is a dominant force in film, television, music, and sports. In addition to the core areas of film, television and theater, ICM has a strong book division. Both Los Angeles-based groups pride themselves on their strengths in emerging fields like podcasting.

Lourd said the two groups had been talking informally about a deal for years, but now the timing “felt incredibly right”.

“We will have more resources and expertise around the world to do something with the writers, directors, actors, musicians and athletes on the field,” he said.

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