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UTA sells minority stakes to investment firms

In what CEO Jeremy Zimmer calls a “transformative event” for the agency, United Talent Agency (UTA) has sold minority equity stakes in the company to Investcorp and Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments).

The Beverly Hills-based agency acquired UK music powerhouse the Agency Group (TAG) in August 2015, and over the past year has acquired interests in live speaking (Greater Talent Network), electronic music (Circle Talent Agency) and esports (Press X and Everyday Influencers). The new influx of capital will be used to “accelerate” UTA’s growth, according to a statement, “enhance UTA’s services and continue to invest in resources to support its clients and colleagues in a time of change and innovation in content creation and distribution”.

Terms were not disclosed, although UTA says its partners retain majority ownership and control of the company. PSP, one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers, with assets of US$119 billion under management, and Bahrain-based Investcorp, which manages more than $22bn in assets globally, join existing investor Jeffrey Ubben as UTA’s ‘capital partners’.

“We were deliberate about finding the right investment partners who recognise UTA as a business that puts clients first”

Zimmer, who founded UTA in 1991 alongside Jim Berkus and Peter Benedek, says: “This is a transformative event for UTA. There has never been a greater moment of change and opportunity in our industry for artists, creators and companies like ours.

“We were deliberate about finding the right investment partners who recognise UTA as a business that puts clients first, exemplifies a collaborative and diverse culture and is focused long term on capitalising on the unique opportunities that disruption and transformation provide. We found that in Investcorp and PSP Investments.”

“The entertainment industry is experiencing tremendous evolution,” adds Simon Marc (pictured), head of private equity at PSP Investments. “As demand for high-quality content is greater than ever, UTA is uniquely positioned to benefit from the transformation in the sector. We are excited to partner with Jeremy Zimmer and UTA’s world-class management team and look forward to backing UTA in the next phase of its growth.”

 


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More UTA Toronto staff find homes at APA, Paquin

Two further booking agencies have made hires from United Talent Agency (UTA) in North America, as the agency’s Canadian staff continue to seek new opportunities ahead of the impending closure of its Toronto office.

Agents Adam Kreeft and Rob Thornton, who had been with the UTA – then The Agency Group – since 2012 and 2007, respectively, join Canadian agency Paquin Entertainment Group, which has offices in Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver. Both Kreeft and Thornton will work out of Paquin’s Toronto office, along with fellow UTA alumnus Sarah Litt, who will be taking on an assistant role.

“With Adam and Rob, we are welcoming two agents who bring a wealth of industry knowledge and experience to a team poised for tremendous growth,” says Paquin president Julien Paquin. “I’m confident that they will both effortlessly integrate into our team and further foster Paquin’s commitment to our artists – and their development – in collaboration with our strong relationships within the industry, as well as our dedication to building a strong music community in Canada.”

Kreeft says he’s “excited to join Paquin, an agency that embraces and embodies what I love about being an agent”. “I’m really psyched to continue working alongside my longtime colleagues Rob Thornton and Sarah Litt, who will be making the move with me as well,” he adds.

“We’re very excited to be investing in Canadian artists and the city of Toronto”

Fellow Agency Group veterans Ralph James and Jack Ross, meanwhile, have been recruited by the Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) to oversee its new Toronto office, where they will be joined by former UTA colleagues Stefanie Purificati and Mike Graham.

James (pictured) brings several high-profile Canadian clients to LA-headquartered APA, including Nickelback, Billy Talent, Big Sugar and The Trews.

“It’s an honour to be in business with such accomplished and respected industry vets as Ralph and Jack,” say APA’s Steve Martin and Jim Gosnell in a joint statement. “We’re very excited to be investing in Canadian artists and the city of Toronto as we continue to expand APA’s global footprint.”

The hires by APA and Paquin follow Paradigm Talent Agency’s announcement last week it is to open its first Canadian office, overseen by former UTA agent Rob Zifarelli, in Toronto.

 


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First digital execs join UTA in London

United Talent Agency (UTA)’s London office has hired its first two digital executives, the booking and literary agency announced today.

Michael Ohene-Djan, who joins from Facebook’s UK office, and Jamie Leeming, formerly of Capitol Records, will create and implement digital marketing strategies for UTA’s clients, with a particular emphasis on music.

Ohene-Djan’s achievements at Facebook include brokering the social network’s partnerships with Glastonbury Festival 2015 and The X Factor 2016, and orchestrating the British royal family’s first Facebook Live broadcast, in which Prince Henry (Harry) of Wales was filmed taking an HIV test.

At Capitol – part of Vivendi’s Universal Music Group – Leeming was one of two UK-based digital marketing executives, developing digital strategies for artists including Sam Smith and 5 Seconds of Summer.

“Digital is a major part of UTA’s full-service commitment, and we’ve seen incredible results when our digital executives have worked with music artists”

London-based UTA agent Geoff Meall comments: “Helping our artists navigate in a disrupted media environment requires more innovation than ever before. Michael and Jamie bring the right experience and entrepreneurial spirit to help our clients succeed. We welcome them to the UTA team in London and look forward to their many contributions.”

Brent Weinstein, UTA’s head of digital media, adds: “Digital is a major part of UTA’s full-service commitment, and we’ve seen incredible results when our digital executives have worked with music artists and clients from all areas of the agency. With Michael and Jamie, we can ensure that our international clients have access to the same day-to-day creativity and expertise.”

UTA’s London office was established in August through the acquisition of The Agency Group, then the world’s largest independent music agency. Agency Group/UTA vice-president Natasha Bent last month moved to Coda Music Agency.

 


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Natasha Bent officially joins Coda

Booking agent Natasha Bent, who had since 2014 been vice-president of The Agency Group (later UTA), has joined Coda Music Agency.

Bent joined The Agency Group in 2006 from her own company, The Village Agency, and has over the course of the decade worked with Foals, The Knife, Chvrches, Foster the People and Amy Macdonald.

At Coda – which is also home to acts including Take That, The Prodigy, Ellie Goulding, Rudimental, Lethal Bizzle, Jess Glynne, Bastille and Halsey – Bent will be assisted by James Tones.

“I’m really excited to be part of this team, and look forward to continuing to work on developing strategies for my clients and the team at the forefront with passion,” she comments.

 


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