ICM Partners has received an investment from New York-based private equity firm Crestview Partners. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the agency confirmed the ICM partnership will maintain majority ownership, with Crestview Partners becoming a minority owner. According to sources, Crestview paid about $150 million for a third of the agency.
The deal comes seven and a half years after ICM completed a management buyback to become a partnership, 100% owned and operated by its agents. That included buying out private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management, which owned 80% of the agency.
ICM Partners has become an outlier among the Big 4 agencies in terms of ownership. CAA is majority owned by private equity fund TPG, while private equity firm Silver Lake Partners owns a significant stake in WME. UTA, which had been a partnership, last year sold a minority equity stake to Investcorp and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board.
ICM plans to use the investment to fund domestic and international expansion.
“We have always dedicated ourselves first and foremost to our clients and are proud to be a singularly focused representation company,” said Chris Silbermann, managing director of ICM Partners. “As our team strategized about growing the agency to be the best it could for our clients, we believed Crestview, with its strong track record of backing media companies, was the ideal partner for us. We are philosophically aligned and excited to take full advantage of the growth opportunities ahead.”
The Hollywood talent agencies have been charting big global expansion plans, fueled by the increased demand for locally produced international content. The process has been accelerated by the ongoing impasse (and legal battle) between the Big 4 talent agencies and the Writers Guild of America.
“ICM Partners, under the leadership of Chris Silbermann, has experienced dramatic growth both organically and through targeted strategic acquisitions,” said Brian Cassidy, partner and head of media at Crestview. “We are thrilled to partner with Chris and the dedicated agents and senior management team at ICM Partners, to help accelerate their expansion at a time of unprecedented global demand for content, content creators and the artists that bring it all alive.”
According to the talent agency, not just the partners but all ICM Partners employees, including assistants and support staff, will benefit financially from the deal with Crestview.
ICM Partners has 600 employees working from offices in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC and London. The agency’s recent acquisitions include Headline Media News and The Royce Carlton Agency, and The Sagalyn Agency in Washington, DC. Additionally, ICM purchased the Canada-based Just For Laughs Festival and Comedy brand with client Howie Mandel, Bell Media and Evenko.
ICM was advised on the deal by investment bank Lazard, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton and Latham & Watkins. Crestview was advised by Davis, Polk & Wardwell.