CAA and ICM Partners are joining forces to consolidate a landmark agency that reflects greater integration in the field of entertainment.
The deal, if approved, would change the Hollywood agency landscape, bringing the Big Four agencies down to the Big Three, with WME and UTA as CAA’s biggest competitors.
The deal, unveiled on Monday morning, is the largest talent deal since WME acquired IMG in 2014 and Endeavor in 2009 with the William Morris Agency, creating the contemporary WME.
The possibility of a combination of CAA and ICM will bring the next TV literature department, publishing and music power to CAA. In recent months, ICM has stepped up its activities in sports, where the CAA already has a large footprint, and in broadcast TV news anchors and hosts, where the CAA is less active.
“Today’s storytellers, athletes, thinkers, and trend setters who have the potential to move, inspire, and attract a wider, global audience have unprecedented opportunities and the ability to achieve their goals and aspirations,” said Brian Lord, Kevin Huachen and In a statement. “The strategic combination of CAA and ICM strengthens our collective resources, skills and relationships to give our world-class clients more opportunities to build their careers and their brands across multiple branches and platforms in a evolving marketplace. Our strong financial position enables us to continue to expand and diversify our business, services and representation of what we do and who we are centered on. We are fortunate to have a partner at ICM who shares our commitment to the best and most inclusive approach to what our clients and companies can do together.
Many details of the transaction remain to be revealed as to how senior managers at ICA will fit into the CAA picture. Chris Silverman, head of ICM Partners, will join the CAA shareholder board. There is still no word on the financial details of the deal.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with the talented CAA team and bringing the force together,” Silberman said. “Together, we will build our success and entrepreneurial spirit, and continue to show unwavering commitment to the best interests of our clients, as well as empowering new, diverse voices within the industry.”
Industry sources immediately questioned whether the merger would lead to an anti-trust investigation from federal regulators.
The merger between Hollywood’s biggest talent companies is not surprising. UTA came close to acquiring the paradigm at 250 250 million two years ago. But that was before the epidemic hit the small company, which left its most lucrative music department to Casey Wasserman.
CAAs and WMEs have direct access to top talent in size and scale, but vertically integrated networks and studio operations are still so large in scope of their spending and global that large corporations are feeling the pressure. Massive structural changes in the nature of TV and film production, and the Writers Guild of America’s successful campaign to eliminate packaging fees have also pushed the agency to the bottom.
CAA and ICM have in recent years issued similar policies regarding new business expansion and a strict focus on talent representation rather than teaming up extensively with clients in projects and business development. CAA was one of the first Hollywood companies to branch out into corporate marketing and other areas of activity outside of the original Hollywood movie and TV business in the 1990s. But in recent years, the CAA’s focus has shifted to entertainment and sports, with the company now managed by private equity investments in CAA’s majority shareholder, TPG.
ICM partners had their own journey through private equity ownership. ICM 200 Riz acquired Powerhouse Light Agency Broder Kurland Chervin Silverman in Rizvi Travers Management. By 2012, Silverman had taken control of ICM after winning an internal management battle, and a team of ICM leaders bought Rizvi Travers and turned it into a managed proprietary entity. In 2019, ICM Partners received an equity investment from Crestview Partners.
The CAA and ICM were formed the same year, in 1975, amid another unrest in the agency arena. International creative management was formed through the merger of Creative Management Associates and internationally renowned agencies. The CAA was introduced by Mike Ovitz, Ron Meyer and a handful of other William Morris agency representatives who famously decided to plant their own flags.