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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Possible CAA Sale Arrives At Uncertain Time For Agencies, Sports Clients

  • Potential deal developing against backdrop of significant pressures in agency business
  • Takeover would have massive ramifications across sports and entertainment
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY NETWORK

One of the biggest agencies in sports and entertainment could be sold — at a time of unprecedented turbulence for the agency business.

French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault, husband of Hollywood star Salma Hayek, is nearing a deal to buy a majority stake of Creative Artists Agency valuing the company at more than $7 billion, Front Office Sports confirmed. 

An agreement for the Hollywood powerhouse, at least two months away from completion, could still collapse in a situation complicated by Friday’s news that the actors’ union, SAG-AFTRA, joined already-striking writers on the picket line — effectively shutting down nearly all film and television production in the industry’s first tandem strike since 1960.

The agency oversees nearly $18 billion in sports contracts and represents stars such as MLB two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani at a time when sports representation continues to see cutthroat competition for clients, pressure on commissions, consolidation, and rookie-scale contracts and draft slotting — all of which threaten to limit agencies’ ability to negotiate deals.

CAA is majority-owned by Texas-based private equity firm TPG, but the finances of key CAA rival Endeavor, a public company and parent of WME and IMG, offer a window into the ongoing stresses of the agency business. Revenue in Endeavor’s representation segment fell in each of the last three quarters, fueled in part by the 2022 majority sale of the Endeavor Content studio.

Some top CAA execs are interested in extricating themselves from underneath TPG, sources said. 

CAA and TPG haven’t commented on the reported sale discussions.

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