Axios Pro Exclusive Content

CAA-ICM deal means more Hollywood agency deals

Tim Baysinger
Jun 29, 2022
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

CAA's acquisition of rival talent agency ICM Partners — which was completed Tuesday after a 10-month review — winnows the Big Four down to a Big Three.

Why it matters: This acquisition will trigger even more agency M&A as everyone else — but particularly United Talent Agency, which is now a very distant third behind the supersized CAA and Ari Emanuel's Endeavor — looks to stay in the game.

Details: The combination between CAA and ICM will give the supersized firm more than 3,200 employees in 25 countries. A source close to the deal tells Axios that 425 employees from ICM will remain, while 105 employees will be laid off.

  • The deal reportedly valued ICM at $750 million — however, a source tells Axios' Dan Primack that it's closer to $800 million. That would give the newly combined company a pro forma value of more than $5 billion.
  • Compare that to the publicly traded Endeavor, which owns WME and UFC, among other live event and sports betting businesses, which currently has a market cap of about $10 billion.
  • ICM, which counts clients like Shonda Rhimes, Vince Gilligan and Samuel L. Jackson, is known for its strong literary division. CAA will likely look to pair that with its robust TV and film representation.

State of play: UTA has been on its own shopping spree since the CAA-ICM deal was first announced last September.

Yes, but: ICM hasn't been CAA's only deal. In April, the agency took full ownership of the CAA-GBG Global Brand Management Group from Global Brands Group.

What's next: The gulf between the haves and have-nots is even wider in the agency world.

  • For some of the mid-sized agencies like APA, Gersh and Paradigm, the talent drain as ICM moves under CAA could be an opportunity to get a bit bigger and potentially poach clients wary of getting lost in the new supersized agency.
  • It also opens the door for someone like Range Media Partners — a management and production firm led by a CAA alum — to gain a bigger foothold in the representation space.

Between the lines: Private equity firm TPG, CAA's majority owner, has long been rumored to eventually spin off CAA.

  • TPG's stock is down 30% since its IPO in January.

The bottom line: Dealmaking and consolidation are hitting all facets of Hollywood. The question is if recession fears will put the brakes on.

Go deeper