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CAA China extends esports reach with Momentum merger

CAA China has acquired Momentum Sports, a leading Chinese marketing and talent agency for sports, esports and sports-entertainment crossover clients.

Following the merger – which also sees Legend Capital, an investor in Momentum Sports, become a CAA China shareholder – Momentum Sports founder Mark Gao will work with Mary Gu, CAA China’s CEO, to grow Creative Artists Agency (CAA)’s sports activities in the world’s most populous country.

CAA China, a joint venture between CAA and private-equity firm CMC, launched last April, aiming to create an “alliance of industry leaders in the world’s fastest-growing entertainment market”.

Gao launched Momentum Sports in 2016 after serving as vice-president of NBA China. Over the past two years, Momentum has provided professional and prospective consulting services for both local and international brands, including vivo, Mengniu, Home Credit, BMW, Logitech and Nike, and sports and esports clients, including footballer Bowen Huang and rising basketball star Shaojie Wang.

“Mark Gao and his internationally minded management team at Momentum will … help further our efforts in China”

“Mark Gao and his internationally minded management team at Momentum will join our world-class sports business, helping further our efforts in China in such high-demand areas as broadcast rights, sponsorship, IP and operation,” says Gu, who joined as CEO last July. “In this moment of remarkable opportunity in China, Momentum’s local sports insights and experience, combined with CAA’s global reach and resources, will play a key role in the continued acceleration of our growth strategy.”

Adds Gao: “We are excited to become part of a company with such a stellar global reputation like CAA and look forward to working collaboratively with our new colleagues – both domestically and internationally – to develop new opportunities for clients in the market.”

In addition to its new ties with Momentum Sports, CAA’s Evolution Media firm has a US$38m stake in Vision Esports, which owns esports agency Echo Fox and league operator Twin Galaxies, while CAA Sports is a partner is Elevate Sports Ventures, which recently agreed strategic partnerships with Live Nation and Oak View Group.

 


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Mary Gu Shuhang named CAA China chief exec

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has appointed Mary Gu Shuhang, a veteran sports exec who most recently headed up the Special Olympics in east Asia, as CEO of its newly formed CAA China division.

CAA has been active in China since 2005, when it opened an office in Beijing, and has invested more than US$400 million into English-language content, mostly film. The launch of a dedicated Chinese division, a joint venture with private-equity firm CMC Capital Partners, was announced in April.

In her new role, Gu (pictured) will build on “CAA’s 12 years of experience in the region to further its efforts in sports services, branded content, live events, television and music touring, while continuing to foster its market leadership in motion pictures and film finance, throughout Greater China [China plus Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan],” says the agency.

Gu comes to CAA China from Special Olympics International, where she was regional president and managing director for east Asia. Prior to that, she was president of the Shanghai corporate pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 and is a co-founder of track-and-field event Shanghai Golden Grand Prix.

“I am honoured to join CAA China … at this very important moment in the company’s growth plan”

“I have tremendous respect for the business CAA has built in China, and am honoured to join CAA China under the visionary leadership of [CAA president] Richard Lovett and [CMC founder] Li Ruigang at this very important moment in the company’s growth plan,” she says.

“I look forward to utilising my network of relationships and in-market experience to help create new opportunities for the agency and our clients in an array of new business areas, while working closely with Jonah [Greenberg, CAA China’s head of film], Roeg [Sutherland, co-head of CAA’s global film finance and sales group] and the team to continue to nurture our thriving motion picture business throughout the region.”

Greenberg adds: “I have admired Mary since first meeting her 10 years ago through our work with the Special Olympics. We have done a lot together over the years and I could not be more excited to welcome her to the CAA family.”

 


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CMC invests in CAA, launches CAA China division

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) is to increase its investment in the Chinese market via a new alliance with private-equity firm CMC Capital Partners.

The “robust partnership” sees Shanghai-based CMC make a minority investment in CAA, with CMC chairman Li Ruigang also joining the agency’s board of directors. A new division, CAA China, will combine “the expertise and vast resources of CAA with the broad reach and network of CMC in Greater China” (mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) to create an “alliance of industry leaders in the world’s fastest-growing entertainment market”, reads a statement from CAA.

CAA has been active in China since 2005, when it opened an office in Beijing, and has invested more than US$400 million into English-language content, mostly film.

The establishment of CAA China follows the June launch of a Chinese division by rival agency WME-IMG.

“We believe China and the US are the two biggest entertainment markets and play pivotal roles on the global landscape”

CAA’s Chinese film division is overseen by Jonah Greenberg, who will continue in his role, with Roeg Sutherland heading up film finance. CAA China will also “progressively add additional senior management to help expand the business into new entertainment and sports areas”.

CMC’s other investments, meanwhile, include several film studios – including Star China and Flagship, a joint venture with Warner Bros – and football club management outfit City Football Group, which owns Manchester City FC and New York City FC.

“For more than a decade, we have served as a vital bridge to and within the Chinese market, utilising our deep experience and network to support the work of the region’s best artists and to develop opportunities within the market for international talent,” says CAA president Richard Lovett (pictured). “CAA China will supercharge our efforts, from motion pictures, television, endorsements and brand consulting to sports, live events, digital media and beyond.

“CMC, under the leadership of Li Ruigang, has a remarkable record of success in the region, and we are confident that our partnership will yield tremendous results for our clients and future business partners in China.”

“CAA China will supercharge our efforts, from film, TV, endorsements and brand consulting to sports, live events, digital media and beyond”

Li adds: “We believe China and the US are the two biggest entertainment markets and play pivotal roles on the global landscape. The partnership not only creates commercial and industry value, but also serves as an innovative force in the evolution of the Chinese media industry.

“CAA is a prominent institution in the US entertainment and sports sector, which has built its success on systematically and consistently enabling the success of their clients throughout the years. We are immensely excited about the potential possibilities of an enhanced China angle by CMC coupled with the experience and resources of CAA. CMC has been in a highly productive cooperation with CAA under the leadership of Richard Lovett, and we look forward to greater accomplishments in the future.”

Statista estimates the Chinese entertainment market is worth more than $200bn. A 2016 Nielsen study revealed affluent Chinese see more live music than the average American, with 57% regularly attending a concert or festival.

 


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