WGA Blasts Endeavor's Reported IPO Plans
"It is impossible to reconcile the fundamental purpose of an agency…with the business of maximizing returns for Wall Street," said the union, which has been feuding with the talent agencies for months.
The Writers Guild of America has reacted to reports that Endeavor is planning to go public later this year.
A Wall Street Journal story published Friday reported that the media company that owns WME has already or will soon file paperwork for a late-2019 IPO. Endeavor declined to comment.
"Today's announcement that Endeavor plans to become a publicly-traded company only strengthens the call for the conflicted and illegal practices of the major talent agencies to end," the WGA said in a statement. "It is impossible to reconcile the fundamental purpose of an agency — to serve the best interests of its clients — with the business of maximizing returns for Wall Street."
The WGA has been locked for months in a heated dispute with the Association of Talent Agents over the impending April 6 expiration of their franchise agreement. At issue are the long-standing practice of packaging fees and the more recent trend of affiliated production companies, of which Endeavor, under financing and production entity Endeavor Content, is a chief participant. The WGA contends that both activities are a conflict of interest and are asking its writer members to drop their agencies if they continue to practice both.
Speculation about one of Hollywood's mega-agencies going public has swirled for years, ever since WME and CAA sold majority stakes to private equity firms Silver Lake Partners and TPG Capital, respectively. WME in particular has ballooned in size and scope, taking on such major acquisitions as IMG and UFC and in 2017 rebranding the parent company as Endeavor to further emphasize that its business has expanded beyond talent representation.
As a result, some clients have grown increasingly suspicious that their own interests are being left behind as their agents look to scale up. As today's WGA statement concluded, "Writers will not be leveraged by their own representatives into assets for investors."