UTA Acquires The Agency Group

United Talent Agency has acquired The Agency Group, which will be combined with UTA’s existing music division effective immediately, the companies announced Aug. 20. UTA also accepted a minority investment from Jeffrey Ubben, founder, CEO and chief investment officer of ValueAct Capital.

Neil Warnock, founder and president of The Agency Group, becomes UTA’s head of worldwide music, reporting to the managing directors. TAG CEO Gavin O’Reilly has left his position and will depart the company.

“It has been a pleasure working with Gavin on consummating this transformative acquisition,” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said.

The deal brings The Agency Group’s stable of more than 95 agents and 2,300 clients across seven global offices to UTA, which in turn provides access to a full suite of resources including digital content platforms, film, television, online entertainment, video gaming, books, branding, licensing and speaking opportunities. The Agency Group name survives for now, but will eventually become history, a source with knowledge of the agreement told Pollstar.

The acquisition instantly makes UTA a player to be reckoned with in the music world. While the agency is primarily known for film and TV representation, its music division took a hit in April with the departures of Rob Prinz and Nikki Wheeler.

“We are thrilled to become a part of UTA,” Warnock said. “This is a major value-add for our clients, utilizing their scale and complementary resources to bring new and exciting business opportunities for all of our artists.”

The Agency Group was founded in 1981 by Warnock, who has worked with live icons including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Michael Jackson. He won Pollstar’s UK Booking Agent of the Year in 2006-08 and 2011-12.

UTA artists now include artists across all genres including Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Muse, The Black Keys, Paramore, Foster the People, Nickelback, Guns ‘N Roses, David Gilmour, Ringo Starr, A Day to Remember, Pierce the Veil, Milky Chance, X Ambassadors, Foals, Dolly Parton, Rachel Platten, Ms. Lauryn Hill, A Great Big World, The Kills, Jeff Bridges, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kevin Costner & Modern West, Hanson, Boy George, Rodriguez, George Benson, Deep Purple, Merle Haggard, and Rush.

“We are excited to bring The Agency Group into UTA.  Neil and his team love music and love their clients. They care deeply about being able to provide full-service representation, which is a desire that perfectly reflects our values.” Zimmer, along with UTA Managing Directors David Kramer and Jay Sures, said in a joint statement.

Concurrently, Ubben becomes a minority shareholder of UTA and a non-voting member of the agency’s board of directors.

The deal is the second such agency marriage in recent weeks. Paradigm and The Windish Agency struck a partnership in late July. Both UTA and TAG had been in expansion mode prior to the acquisition.

The acquisition also seems to positions UTA in the same rare air as CAA, with which it currently is sparring in court over the April defections of about a dozen comedy agents and many of their clients, and WME, which last year acquired mega-sports agency IMG.