UTA has sold minority stakes in the agency to private equity outfits PSP Investments and Investcorp in the latest effort to accelerate the agency’s growth.
The goal is to provide a capital infusion to allow for expansion “in a time of change and innovation in content creation and distribution,” the agency said.
UTA’s sale follows the entry of private equity giants TPG and Silver Lake as majority owners of CAA and Endeavor, respectively, during the past decade. The latest round of investment in UTA values the company at around $700 million-$800 million, according to industry sources. The two investors have together taken a stake believed to be just under 40% for a pricetag of around $200 million.
“This is a transformative event for UTA,” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said. “There has never been a greater moment of change and opportunity in our industry for artists, creators and companies like ours. We were deliberate about finding the right investment partners who recognize UTA as a business that puts clients first, exemplifies a collaborative and diverse culture, and is focused long term on capitalizing on the unique opportunities that disruption and transformation provide. We found that in Investcorp and PSP Investments.”
Some of the fresh cash is set to be distributed to UTA employees at every level but most will be invested in growth ventures for the company. UTA, like its larger rivals CAA and Endeavor, has expanded into the content arena and other areas beyond the core talent representation business. On Monday, the Core Media production venture, in which UTA is an investor, announced a major shift with the acquisition of Intellectual Property Group and plans to rebrand as Industrial Media.
UTA has already been in expansion mode for a few years. The company has nearly doubled in size during the past five years to 900 employees through acquisitions and new ventures in digital content, branding and the UTA IQ data analytics unit. The push into content raises conflict of interest concerns for the core talent representation business. Nonetheless, the largest talent agencies are diversifying rapidly into content ownership and production.
In April 2015, UTA sold a minority stake in the agency to investor Jeffrey Ubben and acquired the music-focused Agency Group. In early 2014, UTA bought the TV news-centric agency N.S. Bienstock, which was rebranded as UTA News and Broadcast. Last year, it bought the speakers agency Greater Talent Network. It’s understood that sports is an area in which UTA is looking to expand.
UTA emphasized that its core executive management team of Zimmer and co-presidents Jay Sures and David Kramer would remain in control of the company. UTA chief operating officer Andrew Thau is also key player.
“We believe UTA’s client-centric business model has strategically positioned the company to capitalize on the ongoing convergence of talent, content, distribution, and marketing,” said David Tayeh, Investcorp’s head of private equity for North America. “Investcorp has been impressed with UTA’s market position, the long-term growth it has enjoyed, and recognizes that its future success will be driven by the continued excellence of its partners in providing superior services for its clients.”
Investcorp manages about $22 billion in assets with a focus on real estate, private equity, alternative investment solutions, and credit management, per the firm.
PSP Investments is one of Canada’s largest pension funds with $153 billion in net assets. Investcorp and PSP have worked together on deals in the past.
“The entertainment industry is experiencing tremendous evolution,” said Simon Marc, managing director and head of private equity for PSP Investments. “As demand for high-quality content is greater than ever, UTA is uniquely positioned to benefit from the transformation in the sector. We are excited to partner with Jeremy Zimmer and UTA’s world-class management team and look forward to backing UTA in the next phase of its growth.”
UTA was advised on the deal by Moelis & Co. and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Investcorp and PSP Investments were advised by Credit Suisse, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, and Sidley Austin LLP.