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PE firm Yucaipa invests in APA

Less than a month after buying into UK metal agency K2, the Yucaipa Companies, the private-equity group controlled by billionaire investor Ron Burkle, has made a strategic investment in Los Angeles-based APA.

APA, the former Agency for the Performing Arts, is headquartered in Hollywood and has offices in New York, Nashville, Atlanta, Toronto and London. Its roster includes Blondie, House of Pain, Fetty Wap, Nickelback, Azealia Banks, Rodriguez, Lil Xan, Gang of Four, King Crimson, Nick Carter, Doves and 50 Cent.

Yucaipa, meanwhile, has stakes in Paradigm’s European business (including X-ray Touring), Spanish festival Primavera Sound and US promoter Danny Wimmer Presents, and owns Artist Group International.

“Ron Burkle and Yucaipa share our philosophy for disciplined growth”

According to Variety, which first reported on the deal, Burkle’s investment in APA is a non-equity arrangement that sees Yucaipa take on APA debt in exchange for cash. Variety’s sources say the cash influx will allow APA to recruit agents and clients at a time when its corporate agency rivals are furloughing and laying off staff.

“With so much uncertainty in the entertainment industry, we’re very pleased to be collaborating with a person and a company so in sync with our vision for the future of our business,” says APA CEO Jim Gosnell. “Ron Burkle and Yucaipa share our philosophy for disciplined growth, and are 100% behind our strategy to expand upon our core business across all media platforms.”

In other APA news, the agency’s head of talent, Jim Osborne (pictured), has been named president, taking over the role from Gosnell.


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US agencies at war over poaching claims

Two US booking agencies are at war in the Superior Court of Los Angeles over the alleged poaching of Beverly Hills-based agent Garrett Smith.

In a dispute that mirrors that of Wantickets’ lawsuit against Eventbrite, the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) – whose musical roster includes Alkaline Trio, Dream Theater, Paul Oakenfold, 50 Cent, The Proclaimers and Scorpions – is seeking damages for interference with contractual relations, interference with prospective economic advantage and unfair competition from The Gersh Agency, of which Smith is now an employee, despite being under contract with APA until September 2017.

APA is also suing Smith himself for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the duty of loyalty and unfair competition.

“Gersh knew of the economic relationship between APA and Smith and intended to disrupt and interfere with that relationship”

In its complaint against literary, comedy and sports agency Gersh, APA’s lawyers, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp’s Adam Levin and Brian M. Ragen, allege the agency “hired Smith despite being specifically advised by plaintiff [APA] that plaintiff was entitled to Smith’s exclusive services for the duration of the employment agreement.

“Defendant knew of the economic relationship between plaintiff and Smith, and intended to disrupt and interfere with that relationship,” they add.

In its suit against Smith (Agency for the Performing Arts Inc. vs Garrett Smith), meanwhile, APA alleges the ex-employee “breached his duty of loyalty to plaintiff by, among other things, rendering services for Gersh during the term of the employment agreement, seeking to divert Plaintiff’s existing and prospective client relationships and business opportunities to Gersh” and encouraged other APA employees to “terminate their employment with plaintiff and accept employment at Gersh”.

IQ has contacted Smith for comment.


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