CAA To Acquire ICM Partners In Blockbuster Agency Deal

Creative Artists Agency has executed a definitive agreement to acquire ICM Partners, potentially the biggest such deal since Endeavor and William Morris Agency merged in 2009. 


The monster deal combines two of the leading global agencies in entertainment and sports, and will “drive broader and more inclusive representation as their clients, their work and the brands shape culture,” according to Monday’s announcement. and would leave an agency landscape consisting of “the big three” being CAA, WME and UTA.

“Today’s storytellers, athletes, thought-leaders, and trend-setters who can move, inspire, and attract large, global audiences have unprecedented opportunity and ability to achieve their goals and aspirations,” said CAA’s co-chairmen Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane, and Richard Lovett in a joint statement.

“The strategic combination of CAA and ICM bolsters our collective resources, expertise, and relationships to deliver even more opportunities for our world-class clients to build their careers and their brands across multiple disciplines and platforms in an evolving marketplace. Our strong financial position enables us to continue to expand and diversify our businesses, with service and representation remaining central to what we do and who we are. We’re fortunate to have a partner in ICM who shares our commitment to the widest and most inclusive vision possible for what our clients and company can accomplish together.”

ICM Partners CEO Chris Silbermann, who will join CAA’s shareholder board, adds, “We’re thrilled to partner and combine forces with the talented CAA team. Together, we will build upon our accomplishments and entrepreneurial spirit, and continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the best interests of our clients, as well as empowering new, diverse voices within the industry.”

The acquisition brings to CAA a global roster of artists in film, television, music, comedy, theater, games, politics, and podcasting. ICM’s books division is expected to enhance CAA’s content-driven motion pictures, television, and podcasting businesses, in addition to its speakers arm, and other divisions. Further, ICM’s London-based ICM Stellar Sports serves more than 800 clients around the globe and maintains offices in 10 countries. ICM’s music clients include a number of high-profile artists, including: Chaka Khan, Buddy Guy, Chris Rock, Corinne Bailey Rae, D’Angelo, Dan Auerbach, Good Charlotte, J. Cole, Jerry Seinfeld, Jill Scott, Kamasi Washington, Khalid, Lisa Loeb, Los Lonely Boys, Mavis Staples, Migos, Puddles Pity Party, Roger Daltrey, Rosanne Cash, Scott Stapp, Sheila E, The Black Keys, Tower of Power, Trey Songz and more.

The transaction is expected to close later this year, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Allen & Company LLC served as financial advisor for CAA, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as legal advisor. Lazard served as financial advisor for ICM, with Sheppard Mullin and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP as legal advisors. Rob Prinz stepped down as ICM Partners Head of Worldwide Concerts in February with Mark Siegel, ICM’s Head of Music, taking over the helm. The news is part of a sweeping new Concerts Division leadership structure announced Feb. 22 by CEO Chris Silbermann. Prinz will remain at ICM as partner and agent and will continue representing a client roster that includes Jerry Seinfeld. In the same announcement, Robert Gibbs, who represents J. Cole among others, was named Head of Music, becoming the highest-ranking Black executive in the agency business, according to ICM. Matt Bates is now Head of International/Head of Europe. Steve Levine remains in his position as Co-Head of Worldwide Concerts, while Peter Elliot and Scott Mantell continue as managing director of Primary Talent International and co-head of International, respectively. The company also announced that it is establishing a Concerts Leadership Committee designed to keep the department on the cutting edge of every client opportunity and groom the next generation of department leaders. It will include Jacqueline Reynolds-Drumm, Yves C. Pierre, Ari Bernstein and Mitch Blackman. In recent years, the agency had made major moves including striking a deal with UK-based Primary Talent International, announced in March 2020, which brought in some major international clients such as Lana Del Rey, The 1975, The Cure and more.

In March of 2019, ICM announced a minority stake acquisition from private equity fund Crestview Partners, which was valued around $150 million and said to be a one-third stake in the agency while the rest of the agency is employee-owned.

The company formerly known as International Creative Management became known as ICM Partners in May 2012 with the finalization of a management buyout of the company that saw investment firm Rizvi Traverse and former ICM chairman and CEO Jeffrey Berg selling their ownership interest in ICM to a partnership composed of dozens of the company’s core agents. The partnership structure was a result of ICM President Chris Silbermann purchase of the 40 percent of the company owned by Suhail Rizvi, who made his investment in 2005, allowing ICM to acquire Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency in 2006. Earlier this year ICM was accused of employee mistreatment in a Los Angeles Times expose. The May 5 story says nearly a dozen women have made complaints with human resources about mistreatment from male bosses, citing specific instances of bullying and inappropriate behavior, although an ICM Partners rep told the Times “HR does not have any record of such allegations.” Partner and Head of Music Robert Gibbs and agent Yves C. Pierre were honored as part of Pollstar‘s 2021 Impact 50 list. Pierre, who is a member of ICM’s Concert Leadershpi Committee, was also named to Pollstar’s 2021 Women of Live list. Agent Victoria Gutierrez was named to the Impact: Next Gen list.

READ MORE: ICM Partners Continues To Break Ground From The Mailroom To The Top: Q’s With ICM’s Robert Gibbs, The First Black Head Of Music For A Major Agency Voices Of Live: ICM Partners’ Lorrie Bartlett, Robert Gibbs and Yves C. Pierre