'Last Week Tonight' Producer Avalon Buys Majority Stake in U.K.'s The Agency

Last Week Tonight - Publicity Still - H 2020
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'Last Week Tonight with John Oliver'

The firm represents such acclaimed British creatives as Sam Mendes, Sally Wainwright, Matthew Warchus, Russell T. Davies, and Catherine Johnson.

Avalon, the U.K.-based management and production company whose credits include Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, Catastrophe, and the recent Sky/FX comedy Breeders, has bolstered its creative force, acquiring a majority stake in The Agency, the British agency whose clients represent some of the leading writers and directors in U.K. TV, film and theater.

Among those on The Agency's books are 1917 director Sam Mendes, alongside Happy Valley and Gentleman Jack creator/writer Sally Wainwright, the Old Vic Theatre's current artistic head and Matilda The Musical director Matthew Warchus, Years and Years creator/writer Russell T. Davies and Mamma Mia! director Catherine Johnson. It also represents writers and illustrators of children's literature. Avalon, meanwhile, while known primarily as one of the world's leading comedy agencies, together with the Artists Rights Group, which it acquired in 2012, now represents the likes of Rob Delaney, Lesley Manville, Daniel Radcliffe, Adam DeVine and Richard E. Grant.

Financial terms weren't disclosed.

The deal, which creates something of a giant spanning writers, actors, directors and comedians, with offices in London, Los Angeles and New York, lands at a time when U.S. agencies have been flexing their muscles in the U.K., which has traditionally been considered off limits and left to their British counterparts. Earlier this year, it was confirmed that WME had sent a group of agents to the U.K..

Following the deal, The Agency will continue to operate under the leadership and management of its partners.

"Avalon and The Agency have collaborated for many years," said The Agency co-founder Stephen Durbridge. "This closer association will allow our company to continue to expand, particularly in the international marketplace. Over 25 years, we have built a highly talented and experienced team and been fortunate to represent the very best writers, directors and creatives in the market. We are excited about the prospects that this partnership will bring."

Laura Kennedy, CEO of Avalon, added: "We are thrilled to be partnering with Stephen, and the whole team at The Agency. They have built an impressive business, with expert deal-making, an outstanding roster and exceptional support for their clients, and we are looking forward to the opportunities ahead."

The Agency was advised by Tom Manwaring of Helion Partners and Martin Wright of Charles Russell Speechlys LLP Solicitors. Avalon was advised by Lindsey Armstrong and David Strong of Marriott Harrison LLP.