After weeks of feverish speculation about turmoil and infighting at ICM, the agency has reached a deal in which majority shareholder Rizvi Traverse will gradually sell its shares to an agency-wide partnership, according to several individuals with knowledge of the situation.
The new ownership structure championed by ICM president Chris Silbermann will operate in a partnership similar to one employed at many law firms.
"The partnership is a broad-based group […] It's about the evolution of the business," one individual with knowledge of the situation said.
News of the partnership was announced in a company-wide memo on Friday, just hours before ICM’s annual Christmas party.
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Though the details are still being hammered out and the deal is unlikely to close before the end of the year, the transfer of ownership will take place without any outside financial backing. Rizvi Traverse plunked down $75 million in 2005 to gain a controlling stake in ICM.
Contrary to some speculation, Silbermann will not be leaving the company, nor will he be taking it over. Chairman Jeff Berg has no intention of leaving either.
Many reports focused on tension at the company and a fissure between Berg and Silbermann, who joined ICM in 2006 after it bought boutique agency Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann. The acquisition was intended to strengthen ICM’s television department, and it has become a point of strength for the agency as its film unit has withered.
This necessitated an agreement that satisfied Silbermann and his lieutenants, many of whom he had placed in top positions at the agency. However, certain individuals close to the situation say the dispute was not as acrimonious as some have suggested.
Reports of Mike Ovitz' involvement appear to have been unfounded, individuals with knowledge of the situation confirmed to TheWrap.