UTA Sells Significant Equity Stake to Two Outside Investors

Courtesy of UTA/Alex J. Berliner/ABImages
From left: Jeremy Zimmer, David Kramer, Jay Sures

In taking on private equity money (from Investcorp and PSP Investments) for the first time, UTA is angling to cement its position among Hollywood's top three agencies

UTA is finally making its money moves.

The Hollywood Reporter has learned that the agency has sold what is being described as a "significant equity stake" to Investcorp and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

Figures and other financial terms were not disclosed, but the UTA partnership retains majority ownership and a source familiar with the deal said that all employees — including assistants and support staff — would get a financial benefit from the transaction. Investcorp and PSP Investments join ValueAct Capital founder and CEO Jeffrey Ubben, whose personal minority investment in the agency made him its first non-agency shareholder in 2015.

The move comes a little over a month after UTA hired independent investment bank Moelis & Company to help identify an investor that could fuel the agency's expansion.

"This is a transformative event for UTA," CEO Jeremy Zimmer, who with co-presidents David Kramer and Jay Sures led the search for outside investors, said in a statement. "We were deliberate about finding the right investment partners who recognize UTA as a business that puts clients first, exemplifies a collaborative and diverse culture, and is focused long-term on capitalizing on the unique opportunities that disruption and transformation provide."

UTA has long been rumored to be looking to take on sizable outside financing, ever since CAA and Endeavor took their businesses to the next level several years ago with now-majority owners TPG Capital and Silver Lake Partners, respectively. This move is seen as cementing its status among Hollywood's top three talent agencies, giving it a significant boost in the direction of its two larger rivals.

Over the past half-decade, UTA has more than doubled to over 900 employees and expanded its representation reach through the acquisition of specialized agencies such as N.S. Bienstock (broadcast news), The Agency Group (music) and Greater Talent Network (speakers). It also has dipped its toe into the production side by taking an equity stake in Core Media Group (soon to be renamed Industrial Media), and the money from Investcorp and PSP Investments will be used in part to transform the agency from a full-service representation firm to a talent and media company, as CAA and Endeavor are doing.

"We believe UTA's client-centric business model has strategically positioned the company to capitalize on the ongoing convergence of talent, content, distribution and marketing," David Tayeh, Investcorp head of private equity, North America, said in a statement. The firm has more than $22 billion in assets under management and has invested in a diverse range of industries around the world for the past 35 years.

Ottawa-based PSP Investments is one of Canada's largest pension investment managers, with $119 billion in assets under management and investments across 75 industries and more than 100 countries.

"As demand for high-quality content is greater than ever, UTA is uniquely positioned to benefit from the transformation in the sector," PSP managing director and head of private equity Simon Marc said in a statement. "We are excited to partner with Jeremy Zimmer and UTA's world-class management team and look forward to backing UTA in the next phase of its growth."