Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies has made an investment in APA as the agency looks to rebound from the pandemic-induced slowdown in the entertainment industry.
The agreement is not believed to be an equity investment but rather a cash influx structured as debt for the talent agency. Industry sources say APA veteran Jim Osborne, APA partner and head of talent, is poised to take on a larger role as president after helping to arrange the Yucaipa deal. Jim Gosnell will remain the agency’s CEO.
Sources close to the situation stressed that the Burkle influx is an effort to help APA grow at a time of major transition for Hollywood talent agencies but it is not a rescue mission. “This isn’t about keeping the lights on,” said a source close to the situation. The goal is for APA to expand its roster of agents and clients at a time when there’s significant turnover at WME, CAA, UTA and ICM Partners.
Yucaipa was known to have had discussions with Sam Gores of Paradigm about investing in that agency, which has struggled amid the shutdown of the music touring business this summer. APA has faced similar challenges although it did not go into the coronavirus crisis with the same high level of debt burden as shouldered by Paradigm.
Osborne was already in line for a promotion to president before the Burkle deal was finalized.
“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,” said Gosnell. “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.”
Burkle has made forays into Hollywood in the past. In 2018, he was involved in an effort to buy the assets of Weinstein Co. out of bankruptcy as part of an investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, former SBA chief under the Obama administration.
(Pictured: Jim Osborne)