UTA Partners With LeBron James' Agent Rich Paul for Sports Division

Jeremy Zimmer and Rich Paul  United Talent Agency  Split-H 2019
Courtesy of Alex J. Berliner/ABImages/ United Talent Agency

The rep known for his NBA clients will head up a new unit at the agency.

After being rebuffed by Paradigm on an acquisition, UTA chief Jeremy Zimmer is moving further into sports representation. 

The talent agency said Wednesday that it is partnering with Rich Paul and investing in his Klutch Sports Group, which was founded in 2012 when LeBron James left CAA to join with Paul. The terms of the investment weren't disclosed. 

Paul — the agent repping Los Angeles Lakers duo James and newly acquired center Anthony Davis, as well as other NBA stars like the Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons and the Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green — will continue to lead Klutch, as well as head up UTA's newly formed sports division.

Up to now, rival major Hollywood talent agencies CAA and WME have been much more established in sports representation, but the investment in Klutch gives UTA a foothold into that world. (Meanwhile, SpringHill Entertainment, James' shingle that produces HBO's The Shop, among other projects, is currently repped by WME.) 

“Rich has built Klutch with the vision, values and entrepreneurial spirit that UTA cherishes,” Zimmer said in a statement. “By focusing on growing clients’ businesses and putting their interests first, Klutch is built for the modern athlete who wants to thrive at the intersection of sports, media, music, art and culture. We are thrilled to work with Rich and his team to build Klutch and UTA Sports into a global powerhouse.”  

The investment in Klutch is the latest in UTA's acquisitive strategy to grow its representation base. In February, the agency acquired influencer firm Digital Brand Architects, while last summer it acquired e-sports agency Press X to expand its gaming business. In June, UTA made a $250 million-$300 million offer to buy talent agency Paradigm, but wasn't able to close the deal. 

Added Paul, who has Klutch offices in Cleveland and Los Angeles: "When I met with Jeremy and the UTA team, it was clear to me they were the perfect partner for Klutch’s next phase of growth. They understand and share our view on the future of sports and recognize how there is an entirely new way to represent elite athletes. The innovation, resources and talent at UTA is going to supercharge everything we can do and together, UTA and Klutch, will build a transformative global sports business."

The law firm Skadden, represented by attorneys David Eisman and Allison Hunter, advised UTA on the investment, while Gibson Dunn advised Klutch Sports Group on the deal.