ICM Partners Takes On First Private Equity Investor

Chris Silbermann - Big Brothers Big Sisters Of Greater Los Angeles Big Bash Gala - Getty -H 2019
Leon Bennett/Getty Images

ICM Partners' CEO Chris Silbermann.

Crestview Partners is coming on board as a minority stakeholder to “accelerate domestic and international expansion plans,” says the agency.

ICM Partners has sold a minority stake to private equity firm Crestview Partners, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. In doing so, the agency joins CAA, WME and UTA — which brought aboard Investcorp and PSP Investments last year — as agencies that have taken on private equity.

Crestview’s strategic investment will “help accelerate domestic and international expansion strategy” as well as enhance its various client services and resources, according to ICM’s announcement of the deal.

“We have always dedicated ourselves first and foremost to our clients and are proud to be a singularly focused representation company,” managing director Chris Silbermann said in a statement. “As our team strategized about growing the agency to be the best it could for our clients, we believed Crestview, with its strong track record of backing media companies, was the ideal partner for us. We are philosophically aligned and excited to take full advantage of the growth opportunities ahead.”

New York-based Crestview, founded in 2004, has more than $9 billion in assets under management, and maintains investments in such companies as Wow! and Industrial Media (the American Idol producer partially owned by UTA), with exits including Charter Communications and Cumulus Media.

“ICM Partners, under the leadership of Chris Silbermann, has experienced dramatic growth both organically and through targeted strategic acquisitions,” Crestview partner and head of media Brian Cassidy said in a statement. “We are thrilled to partner with Chris and the dedicated agents and senior management team at ICM Partners to help accelerate their expansion at a time of unprecedented global demand for content, content creators and the artists that bring it all alive. With a strong leadership team and a sole focus on client representation, we are confident that ICM is well-positioned for further success in this industry.”

Unlike the other agencies that have taken on private equity money and diversified into other business areas, ICM has remained adamant that it will remain purely a talent representation firm. But it foreshadowed a major move in October, reorganizing its leadership structure to appoint Kevin Crotty and Sloan Harris to the newly created roles of co-presidents overseeing agent and client matters, in order to free up Silbermann and co-managing director Ted Chervin to focus on growth.

Last year, ICM’s major acquisitions included D.C.-based publishing firm The Sagalyn Agency and leading comedy brand Just For Laughs, which it co-purchased with client Howie Mandel, Bell Media and Evenko. In 2017 it significantly grew its broadcasting and speakers divisions with the acquisitions of Headline Media News and The Royce Carlton Agency.

Although the size and price of Crestview’s stake was not disclosed, ICM says that all of its 600 employees will profit from the deal. “We are proud and excited to reward all of our dedicated employees, from assistants and support staff to our partners, with a financial benefit resulting from our new partnership with Crestview,” Silbermann said in a statement.

Investment bank Lazard, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton as well as Latham & Watkins advised ICM on the deal. Davis, Polk & Wardwell advised Crestview.