EQT Private Equity has become a strategic investor in United Talent Agency, the companies announced July 18, making the global investment firm EQT the agency’s largest outside shareholder.
The UTA partnership and leadership will continue to hold the controlling interest in the company, while global alternative investment firm Investcorp – which invested in UTA in 2018 – will sell its full minority stake to EQT, which will also purchase a portion of existing stakes from continuing shareholders including PSP Investments.
For EQT, the move recognizes “UTA’s artist-first approach and recent growth trajectory and will help fuel the next phase of investments in talent, innovation and international expansion,” according to a statement.
The full-service agency co-founded in 1991 by CEO Jeremy Zimmer has undergone a dramatic strategic expansion over the past few years, including the acquisition of top European publishing and talent agency The Curtis Brown Group in June and the purchase of MediaLink, the leading strategic advisory firm for entertainment and media companies, in December.
UTA also made a strategic investment in KLUTCH Sports Group in 2019. Over the last four years UTA has almost doubled in size to nearly 1,900 employees, including during a time in which many similar companies were downsizing thanks to the COVID pandemic. A source with knowledge of the deal tells Pollstar that all employees, regardless of tenure, will receive a financial bonus with the EQT partnership.
Jeremy Zimmer, CEO of UTA, said, “EQT is the perfect partner for UTA’s next phase of growth. They have deep international capabilities, a strong balance sheet, and most importantly they truly appreciate and respect the culture that we have built at UTA. David Kramer and I led this process, and we made sure to listen to our instincts about who we felt would really help us drive growth while protecting our culture. We believe that we found the right partner to maintain that balance.
The new partnership brings EQT’s financial resources, expertise in capital markets, in-house digital team and global footprint to the fore in support of UTA’s continued growth plans. The injection of new investment is expected to further accelerate UTA’s growth through investments in its core businesses as well as expansion into adjacent opportunities.
Kasper Knokgaard, EQT Partner and Global Head of the Services Sector Team, said, “EQT invests in industry leading platforms that are well situated for strong and sustained growth across economic cycles, are aligned with our values, and where we know we can create significant value – UTA checks all the boxes. We are excited to partner with Jeremy Zimmer and the entire team to accelerate UTA’s growth trajectory and enable more opportunities across entertainment and media.”
Dave Tayeh, Head of Private Equity – North America at Investcorp, said, “Our investment in UTA was highly successful and we are proud to have partnered with the UTA team as they achieved exceptional growth over the past four years. The company has strengthened its position as a market leader and we wish the team and EQT continued success.”
Martin Longchamps, Managing Director, Head of Origination and Execution at PSP Investments, said, “Since our original investment in 2018, PSP Investments and Investcorp have been working closely with Jeremy Zimmer and his management team to continue to strengthen UTA’s exceptional market position. During this time, UTA has proven its abilities to perform, innovate and diversify as a leading entertainment company. We are excited to continue this journey with UTA and to welcome EQT. Together, we will be a driving force in supporting UTA’s long-term growth.”
The transaction is expected to close later this month.
UTA was advised by Moelis & Company (exclusive financial advisor) and Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (legal). EQT Private Equity was advised by Weil, Gotshal & Manges (legal) and Bain & Company (commercial).
With the investment in UTA, EQT X (target fund size of EUR 20.0 billion and hard cap of EUR 21.5 billion) will be 5-10 percent invested based on its target fund size. EQT X will be activated and start charging management fees upon the closing of its first transaction, currently expected to be the closing of the investment in UTA. EQT IX is currently 85% to 90% percent invested and continues to be in its commitment period but management fees will, following activation of EQT X, be based on net invested capital.