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CAA Partners Vow to ‘Double Down’ on Talent Representation With ICM Acquisition

CAA and ICM heads spoke to TheWrap about their massive talent deal

On Monday, CAA announced it was acquiring ICM in one of the biggest deals of its kind since WMA and Endeavor’s merge in 2009. And with the buy, CAA is doubling down on its talent representation and relationships and hopes to build a resourceful platform together, heads from the two companies told TheWrap.

TheWrap spoke to CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Richard Lovett and Kevin Huvane, as well as ICM’s Chris Silbermann following the announcement of the acquisition.

“We now realized instead of competing, there was a great opportunity to collaborate or partner in the interest of the clients and what this new world order brings,” Lourd said. “The plan is to build an agency for the future that has great resources and great expertise… We want to double down in representation. We’re driving towards it, not away from it.”

Silbermann added: “We saw the world the same: clients first, clients first, clients first.”

The merger between the two 46-year-old rivals will leave just three major talent agencies in Hollywood — WME, CAA and UTA. The deal is expected to close later this year, subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals. Financial terms were not disclosed — and the four executives did not comment on any details of the transaction, either.

Lourd, Huvane and Lovett will oversee the new company, while Silbermann will join CAA’s shareholder board.

See below for TheWrap’s Q&A.

TheWrap: Why now?

Bryan Lourd: The why now is a long answer, but it’s essentially that we’ve known each other for decades, then beyond us, our partners have known each other, and every single hour, we are shocked at the connectivity of the two companies. And yes, we were competitive but their company and our companies had the most integrity with each other. The specific answer to why now is that we are really more complementary than competitors. The plan is to build an agency for the future that has great resources and great expertise. And just a second about ICM, we are blown away with what they have built in publishing and Stellar, and in the movie business and television and broadcast. It’s a great complementary fit, and most importantly we like each other and we believe that it’s about the client first.

How long had these conversations been going on for? Did the conversation predate COVID?

Chris Silbermann: It’s such an organic conversation, there wasn’t one date where we said, let’s do this. It was an evolution over time — we’ve been friends, and as we were talking, we just realized that this was a great time doing it. We saw the world the same, clients first clients first clients first. We were just realizing having these resources together, we could build this platform together that would make great work and be a meaningful platform in this changing landscape. We’ve been talking about the possibility for decades.

Richard Lovett: Over the last year, year plus, our conversations started to accelerate, and we knew this is finally the right time for both companies and herein of course the time it took, we signed this morning.

How are you combating potential antitrust issues from the acquisition?

Bryan Lourd: I wouldn’t say there were conversations how to combat antitrust, we did get advice from our advisers, and we were very confident that our business approach would be something that people won’t have a problem with. We’re filing as we speak, but we’re not presumptuous. We’re not too concerned about it.

So it sounds like it’s all about talent representation and relationships.

Kevin Huvane: It’s a company that is client based — the two companies have a shared belief that representation is everything 

Bryan Lourd. “We’ve always been focused on clients and athletes in the last 12 years, and what we can do to provide them with the resources and advocacy to help them realize their dream… We want to double down in representation. We’re driving towards it, not away from it.

Can you talk a little more about the deal terms and what the plan is to incorporate ICM staffers and clients into CAA’s headquarters?

Richard Lovett: We can’t share deal terms with you, I know that’s frustrating, but we’re not going to share specifics. When lawyers tell us that we can move forward with the new companies moving together, we anticipate to be in one building. CAA is a culture driven company and culture is how we treat one another, we are obsessed with our culture. 

We saw Chris will be on the board — will he have an executive position as well?

Bryan Lourd: This happened this morning, we are just getting started — there are some things we can and can’t talk about. But Chris is joining the investors board which is the TPG board, and like of all of us, he is going to be running the company with us.

Chris Silbermann: The trust with you each other and friendship is totally organic.. Richard talks about the culture and it really is a unique and wonderful culture of that trust, as well as this desire to work together and do things together… And we feel great about that. We feel great about how we look to clients. We feel great about how this company is going to grow into the future, I can’t wait to be doing this together.