By Gary Symons
TLL Editor in Chief
There’s been a seismic shift in the licensing industry, as French billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault has completed his acquisition of a majority stake in Creative Artists Agency.
Pinault completed the acquisition through his family investment company, Artémis, which now replaces the private equity firm TPG as the majority share holder.
The deal is central to the licensing industry, as Creative Artists Agency is one of Hollywood’s top three talent agencies, with the others being William Morris Endeavour (WME) and United Talent Agency.
CAA represents many of the top stars in Hollywood, but is also a diversified licensing shop that also negotiates deals for Jazwares’ Squishmallow brand, for example. A nod to the power of CAA in this market is the valuation of $7 billion given the company in this transaction. It is not yet clear what percentage of CAA Artémis will be buying.
Artémis is a major investor in the brand space, with a $40 billion portfolio that includes luxury goods like Gucci and St. Laurent, Christie’s Auction House, and the world famous winery Chateau Latour.
According to an announcement, the company’s key leadership, including Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane and Richard Lovett, have all committed to remaining with CAA. Lourd will be named CEO after the Artémis transaction closes. Jim Burtson, who led the CAA deal team, will remain President of CAA.
“Artémis is a strategic investor of the highest order, with global reach and resources across countless areas of our clients’ interests, a deeply sophisticated understanding of global brands and how to support their growth, and a passion for creativity and innovation that matches ours and that of our clients,” Lourd, Lovett, Huvane and Burtson said in a joint statement. “We are enormously grateful to TPG for their strategic expertise, invaluable support, and friendship over 13 years. We enjoyed tremendous growth and success together and look forward to continuing to collaborate on projects ahead.”
Pineault is the CEO of Artémis, which owns fashion superpower Kering, and says CAA is an ideal fit for the company, with its access to almost unparalleled star power.
“As a leader in its field with an outstanding management team, a crystal-clear focus on providing world-class service to world-class clients and a tremendous track record of growth, CAA has all the relevant characteristics to be part of the Artémis family, adding increased diversity, both in terms of geographical footprint and business activities, to our other assets,” Pineault said. “CAA’s exceptional insight, relationships, and access across key sectors, combined with their widely regarded level of collaboration and innovation, gives the company a formidable role in driving global opportunities for its diverse and culture-defining clients. We look forward to supporting the agency’s very bright path ahead.”
CAA is without doubt a leader among global talent agencies, with a vast array of stars and brands it represents in entertainment and sports. The company recently completed the successful acquisition and integration of global talent and sports agency International Creative Management (ICM) and CAA Brand Management, a leading brand development and management firm for the world’s most iconic brands.
Other than the company’s revenues, CAA likely also represents powerful synergies for Artemis and Kering, as celebrities in the entertainment field have become increasingly important in drawing the public’s attention to fashion brands. For example, celebrities are often invited to and heavily profiled during fashion shows.
The transaction is expected to be completed later this year, subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed.