Now KKR Is Backing Off CAA Investment

I’ve heard from multiple sources that, after months and months of pursuing potential financial partners, CAA probably won’t obtain that big fat investment from KKR. (CAA Negotiating $200M Investment From KKR.) The NYC-based private equity firm whose full name is Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, seemed on track to invest a whopping $200M in Hollywood’s most powerful agency. Not any more. Here’s what a KKR bigwig is saying is the reason: “The town is too complex for me.” Forget it, Jake. A far as KKR is concerned, Hollywood is Chinatown.

Another reason for the lack of enthusiasm is that, as The New York Times quipped last month, “the barbarians didn’t exactly storm the gate”. KKR, the subject of the book-into-HBO film Barbarians At The Gate, held its much-anticipated public stock offering July 15th and it fell flat. No hype. No hoopla. No more golden era for private equity when every budding company dreamed of an IPO and Wall Street firms fed at the leveraged buyout trough. The listing does gives KKR ready access to the public markets. That could have enabled CAA to form a financial alliance that might have backed its action outside traditional Hollywood agenting. Where CAA will go next for this $200M cash infusion, huge considering that CAA’s revenues were around $300M before the financial crisis, or how it will fare if none or a much reduced amount is forthcoming, will be a subject of much speculation.

CAA insiders I spoke with don’t seem overly concerned. But CAA is self-financing its sports business, despite the fact it’s a notoriously expensive enterprise (because of the size of upfront investments in players that don’t pay off for many years). And the powerhouse sports agents which the agency has assembled in recent years (who are already not-so-quietly complaining about their compensation packages). And their planned expansion into sports production, video games, and other arenas. And their need to raise additional cash as a liquidity event for CAA partners.

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