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UTA Strengthens Music Biz, Acquires The Agency Group

The Beverly Hills talent agency has also accepted a minority investment from Jeffrey Ubben

UTA has acquired The Agency Group – the world’s largest independent music agency – and accepted a minority investment from leading investor Jeffrey Ubben.

The Agency Group represents some of the biggest global touring and live music artists, with more than 95 agents operating from seven offices in London, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Toronto and Malmo, Sweden.

With the acquisition of The Agency Group, which will be combined with UTA’s existing music division, UTA has emerged as a major player in music artist representation. UTA’s music practice now covers artists across every musical genre – rock, metal, pop, electronic, R&B, hip hop, reggae, folk, adult contemporary, classical, indie, jazz, punk, theatrical – with artists including Kanye West, Mariah Carey, Muse, The Black Keys, Paramore, Foster the People, Nickelback, Guns ‘N Roses, David Gilmour, Ringo Starr, A Day to Remember, Pierce the Veil, Milky Chance, X Ambassadors, Foals, Dolly Parton, Rachel Platten, Ms. Lauryn Hill, A Great Big World, French Montana, Natalie La Rose, The Kills, Jeff Bridges, Chris Janson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kevin Costner & Modern West, Hanson, Boy George, Crystal Fighters, Rodriguez, George Benson, Deep Purple, Merle Haggard and Rush, among others.

As a result of this deal, The Agency Group clients will now have access to UTA’s full breadth of resources, including new opportunities across digital content platforms, motion pictures, television, online entertainment, video gaming, books, branding, licensing and speaking engagements, providing clients with an integrated, full-service approach to artist representation. They will also have access to UTA’s broad marketing and media resources.

“We are excited to bring The Agency Group into UTA. Neil and his team love music and love their clients. They care deeply about being able to provide full-service representation, which is a desire that perfectly reflects our values,” said UTA managing directors David Kramer, Jay Sures and Jeremy Zimmer.

“We are thrilled to become a part of UTA. This is a major value-add for our clients, utilizing their scale and complementary resources to bring new and exciting business opportunities for all of our artists,” added The Agency Group founder and president Neil Warnock.

Warnock will become head of worldwide music for UTA, reporting to the managing directors. As part of the acquisition, The Agency Group CEO Gavin O’Reilly has relinquished his position and will be departing the company.

“It has been a pleasure working with Gavin on consummating this transformative acquisition,” said Zimmer.

Concurrent with the acquisition, Ubben, founder and CEO of ValueAct Capital – which has significant investments in companies including Microsoft, 21st Century Fox, Adobe and CB Richard Ellis – has made a personal investment in UTA. Through the investment, which will provide growth capital and help fund strategic initiatives such as The Agency Group acquisition, Ubben becomes a minority shareholder of UTA and a non-voting member of the agency’s Board of Directors, whose members are Peter Benedek, Jim Berkus, Tracey Jacobs, David Kramer, Matt Rice, Jay Sures and Jeremy Zimmer.

“UTA’s brand and the strong leadership position the company for exceptional growth as the global demand for great content continues. Building on a long tradition of success, UTA is making aggressive strategic investments across the media landscape. I am excited to be able to invest in such a high energy organization,” said Ubben.

“I’ve known Jeff for several years, and I really believe that he will be a valuable resource for UTA. Unlike a more traditional private equity investment, we have taken a personal, long-term investment from a thoughtful and capable executive. We are lucky to have him on the UTA team,” added Zimmer.

These deals are the latest in a series of major strategic moves by UTA that enhance its position as a global leader in talent representation. In early 2014, UTA acquired Bienstock, the leading talent agency in broadcast news and reality programming, making UTA the largest and most powerful agency in the broadcast news space. UTA has also invested heavily in the expansion of its team and core business, bringing in 20 new agents in 2015.

Other innovations aimed at expanding UTA’s global brand and diversifying its business include the launch of UTA Fine Arts last year, representing top talent in the contemporary art world, the UTA Brand Studio, an in-house brand strategy firm offering consulting services to consumer brands, causes and other corporate clients, as well as the UTA Venture Fund, which invests in start-ups and early stage companies. In addition, UTA founded and co-owns leading integrated marketing firm United Entertainment Group, a DJE Company, in partnership with Edelman, which focuses on branded entertainment for major consumer brands.

Moelis & Company, led by media and entertainment investment bankers Navid Mahmoodzadegan and Carlos Jimenez, served as financial advisor to UTA in connection with the investment. David Eisman of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP acted as legal counsel in connection with the transactions.