Top Brit talent agency sold

Takeover assists move into production

LONDON — Peters Fraser & Dunlop, one of the U.K.’s leading talent agencies, has been sold to CSS Stellar, a publicly-quoted sports and entertainment management group, for an initial payment of £11.9 million ($17.3 million).

CSS Stellar currently reps “Weakest Link” presenter Anne Robinson and veteran Brit chatshow host Michael Parkinson, along with golfers, soccer players and racing drivers.

PFD’s large roster of writers, actors and directors includes Tom Stoppard, Richard Curtis, Mike Leigh, Ewan McGregor and Kate Winslett.

The takeover will allow PFD, which traces its roots to 1924, to expand into development and production on behalf of its clients, alongside its existing agency business.

“We will be starting a small, selective development fund, and CSS Stellar are also able to provide production finance, although only for television, not for films,” Anthony Jones, joint chairman of PFD, said.

John Webber, chairman of CSS Stellar, commented: “We have spent a considerable amount of time seeking the right acquisition in a fragmented sector. PFD is a market leader with an unrivalled reputation and with a large number of prestigious clients and a skilled and loyal management team.”

CSS Stellar, which is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market, also owns a merchandizing and product placement business, and a financial services company.

“It gives our clients access to services and business opportunities they didn’t have before, although only a small percentage of them will be interested in merchandizing or driving grand prix cars,” Jones said wryly.

The initial $17.3 million price tag comprises $5.8 million in cash, $3.6 million in loan notes and $7.8 million in CSS Stellar stock, which is being spread among all PFD employees.

“Previously the shareholding was rather heavily weighted towards the older established agents, but we have now spread it to the younger agents and the secretaries,” Jones said.

There will be an additional payment of up to $14.6 million tied to performance.

PFD reported sales of $9.6 million and pre-tax profit of $490,000 in the financial year to March 2001.

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