APA Gets Cash Investment From Yucaipa Companies; Osborne To Be Named President


Agency for the Performing Arts has received a major infusion of cash from Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies, becoming the latest entertainment-focused company to attract an investment from the private equity firm. 

The cash-only, non-equity deal is a strategic investment that is expected to allow APA to continue growing its mission of providing boutique-level agency services to a broad range of entertainment clients, according to a person with knowledge of the deal that was first reported by Variety.

Specific financial details weren’t disclosed. In tangentially related news, APA Head of Talent Jim Osborne will become APA president while current President and CEO Jim Gosnell retains his position as CEO. The investment may have sped up that appointment, but sources tell Pollstar that Osbourne was already positioned to be named president well before the Yucaipa investment was on the table. 

Despite the general industry shutdown, APA has continued signing major writers, screenwriters, showrunners and, in the music space, artists and multi-hyphenates.

“With so much uncertainty in the entertainment industry, we’re very pleased to be collaborating with a person and a company so in sync with our vision for the future of our business,” Gosnell stated. “Ron Burkle and Yucaipa share our philosophy for disciplined growth, and are 100% behind our strategy to expand upon our core business across all media platforms.” 

The investment comes at an opportune time, as the ongoing COVID crisis continues to mire the entertainment business in uncertaintly. APA acknowledged instituting a round of furloughs June 30, although as a boutique it does not have the burden of heavy overhead and staffing as many of the major agencies. 

Burkle got his start buying and selling grocery store chains including giants Ralphs and Fred Meyer, as well as U.K. retailer Tesco. He founded The Yucaipa Companies in 1986, specializing in U.S. companies in the distribution, logistics, food, retail, consumer, hospitality and light industrial sectors. 

But, more recently, Burkle has been kicking the tires of the entertainment space. He’s invested in the UK’s Independent Talent Group and, in the U.S., Independent Sports & Entertainment and Rick Yorn’s LBI Entertainment management firm, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Yucaipa has invested in Primavera Sound Spain, Danny Wimmer Presents and, after an initial 2012 investment in Artists Group International that resulted in a merger with Yucaipa’s Y Entertainment Group, less than a month ago the company entered into a joint venture with the London-based K2 Agency, which also joined AGI under the Y Entertainment banner.