SAG-AFTRA Says It “Will Carefully Scrutinize” CAA-ICM Partners Deal

By Patrick Hipes, Ted Johnson


After Deadline broke the news Monday that CAA said was acquiring ICM Partners in the first major Hollywood agency tie-up since the WMA-Endeavor deal in 2009, the bombshell news has began sinking in around the industry.

One sector that will be interested are the Hollywood unions, and SAG-AFTRA became the first to react with a statement by National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

“SAG-AFTRA welcomes any change that results in increased negotiating power for talent as they bargain individual deals with the multi-billion dollar corporations that produce content,” Crabtree-Ireland said in a statement. “We will carefully scrutinize this combination of two storied talent agencies to ensure that performers will benefit from, and are not disadvantaged by, the deal.”

Executives at both companies — CAA’s Richard Lovett, Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane and ICM Partners head Chris Silbermann — said today they believe the deal will pass muster with the guilds, as well as from an antitrust standpoint. The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division likely would look at the impact that the transaction would have on the talent unions and guilds, a reason that the SAG-AFTRA view of the merger is significant.

Still Gene Del Vecchio, adjunct professor of marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business, said via email that he “can’t imagine there are any legitimate antitrust issues with this merger. It allows CAA and ICM to better compete with its formidable competitors, while at the same time helping it to better service its clients with a wider portfolio of opportunities…all in-house.”

Some also have wondered about layoffs – numerous agents and support staff were let go in the consolidation that followed the WMA and Endeavor link-up.

Lourd told deadline they could not comment in this early stage on the prospect of layoffs or the guilds. The two companies did say today that the “complementary combination of CAA and ICM will create deeper, broader, and more competitive opportunities for clients in the ever-evolving entertainment, media, and sports landscapes.”

News of the CAA-ICM deal comes as all the major agencies are ending the packaging business that was a staple, after a brutal standoff with the Writers Guild last year.

The Writers Guild of America, which also has been critical of industry consolidation, has not yet commented on the transaction.

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