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Creative Artists Agency is acquiring its rival ICM Partners in a blockbuster deal that will consolidate the ranks of major Hollywood agencies as the representation industry undergoes a pandemic-era business shift.
The companies, led by CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane and Richard Lovett and ICM’s Chris Silbermann, did not disclose sale price and said the deal will close later this year. Silbermann will join CAA’s shareholder board.
The merging of the Century City-based firms will leave three major talent firms — WME, CAA and UTA — that represent the bulk of dealmaking for the industry. The companies’ sale pitch notes that ICM’s books division can be paired with CAA’s film and TV focus in the representation space, giving a competitive edge. ICM also moved further into the sports representation space in October, acquiring management company Stellar Group, which touts around 800 clients globally.
CAA reps Hollywood notables including Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson and Will Smith, among many others, while ICM’s clients include Shonda Rhimes, Michael Keaton, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and Alec Baldwin.
CAA’s acquisition of ICM also comes as the private equity firm TPG Capital, which is CAA’s majority owner, explores a public offering. Acquiring ICM would give CAA additional scale in the representation business while TPG continues to pursue its IPO. (In addition to its CAA stake, TPG Capital has invested in other companies including Spotify, STX Entertainment, Vice Media and Cirque du Soleil.)
Assuming TPG follows through with its plans to go public, CAA would become the second major Hollywood agency to have some exposure to the public equity markets. WME is owned by entertainment and sports conglomerate Endeavor Group Holdings, which went public in April this year. That being said, CAA would remain a private company even after a TPG IPO, though investors in TPG would have exposure to the agency.
CAA’s minority shareholders include Singapore-based investment company Temasek and China-based CMC Capital Partners. In June, the agency, as part of its deal to rep Writers Guild of America members, sold wiip, the content company it financially backed that had produced HBO’s Mare of Easttown and Apple TV+’s Dickinson.
Since March of last year, the representation business took a financial hit amid film and TV shutdowns and the cancellation of live events and concerts. All major Hollywood agencies underwent significant layoffs during the pandemic. Amid consolidation and agent and executive departures at the majors over the past year, new independent firms like management company Range Media Partners have launched.
“Our strong financial position enables us to continue to expand and diversify our businesses, with service and representation remaining central to what we do and who we are,” said CAA’s Lourd, Huvane and Lovett in unveiling the deal.
ICM exec Silbermann added: “Together, we will build upon our accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit, and continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the best interests of our clients, as well as empowering new, diverse voices within the industry.”
In reply to the merger unveiling, performers union SAG-AFTRA signaled a note of caution. “We will carefully scrutinize this combination of two storied talent agencies to ensure that performers will benefit from, and are not disadvantaged by, the deal,” said SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.
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