Hollywood remains effectively shut down with the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes, but Francois-Henri Pinault continues to proceed with a $7 billion effort to acquire a majority stake in Creative Artists Agency — which would be a landmark deal in both sports and entertainment.
Nearly seven weeks after Pinault’s interest in the mega-agency first surfaced, the French billionaire is now reportedly approaching a definitive agreement to acquire majority control of CAA from Texas-based private equity firm TPG, with industry sources telling Front Office Sports the deal is “close.” Negotiations are now expected to conclude in the coming weeks.
The $7 billion valuation represents a sizable increase on the prior $5.5 billion from last year, when CAA acquired rival agency ICM Partners. It’s also possible that Temasek Holdings, a Singapore state-owned investment company, will increase its existing stake in CAA in the Pinault deal.
Pinault’s move shows a high amount of optimism in the face of significant headwinds across the agency business. Not only is nearly all film and television production shut down — the industry’s first tandem strike since 1960 — but sports representation is facing its own existential challenges.
CAA oversees nearly $18 billion in sports contracts and represents leading athletes such as MLB two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani, NFL superstars Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Justin Jefferson, as well as 12-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul. But agencies’ ability to negotiate deals are now constricted by a range of factors including cutthroat competition for clients, pressure on commissions, and rookie-scale contracts and draft slotting.
Pinault, the husband of Hollywood star Salma Hayek, is part of an expansive family business that is the leading shareholder in the parent company of Gucci and other luxury brands, and also controls the Christie’s auction house.