CAA & ICM Honchos Talk Acquisition: Client Benefits, Office Space, Anti-Trust Review

The bombshell acquisition of ICM Partners by CAA will strengthen a collective commitment to client representation, the principals behind the deal said in an interview with Deadline this morning.

Among other issues, CAA’s Richard Lovett, Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane and ICM Partners head Chris Silbermann told Deadline they believe the deal will pass muster from an anti-trust standpoint, and with the guilds. The agencies eventually will end up in one headquarters, but for now they are in physical proximity so there will be no rush once both offices fully reopen after being long shuttered by the Covid pandemic. The deal takes shape as all the major agencies end the packaging business that was a staple, after a brutal standoff with the Writers Guild last year. The principals said the key to their optimism is the core reason behind the linkup of two major agencies.

“What this makes super clear is, this whole strategy is a commitment to client representation,” Lourd said. “With this deal, we feel really righteous that we will be better able to serve those clients in movies, television, athletics, in a much stronger way with more resources and brilliant leaders. With Chris and Ted [Chervin], this is a transformative moment for both companies. We are psyched about it. We are not going to be able to comment on some of the things you are asking, but understand that in our minds, one plus one equals a lot more than two.”

Asked how long these talks have taken place, Lourd joked “We’ve been talking about 31 years, and I’m not kidding. We all go back, and started at a similar time, and have been around the same field, and there has always been chemistry, and clarity about purpose. We’ve been through a bunch of situations together we’ve been through. But in this chapter, it started months ago, these conversations amongst all of us, when it finally felt like it was the right time.”

Said Silbermann: “Timing is everything, we see the world the same way, clients first, and we got more excited the more we talked about it, and more dreams we could fulfill.”

Said Huvane: “We’ve known each other long time. There is mutual respect, and a nice friendships over the years with several people over at ICM that makes this right.”

This morning as word about a pending deal began to spread, some wondered about layoffs – numerous agents and support staff were let go in the consolidation that followed the WMA and Endeavor link up – and whether the combination of two of the four “major agencies” will pass muster with the Guilds and with regulatory anti-trust.

Lourd said they could not comment in this early stage on the prospect of layoffs or the guilds – “we just finished this literally at 8:17 am” – but on the anti-trust matters, he said: “We don’t foresee any real issues or problems. We’ve consulted with everyone who would have informed opinion. We will go through the process, file, and wait for and answer any questions from anyone about why we are doing this. We have very close relationships with many leaders outside the company, who understand why building with more resources and a stronger culture that is about clients first, and not about other businesses, will be a benefit.”

CAA chief Richard Lovett addressed the physical office space issue.

“The most important thing to really know here is that we are a culture driven company, and we’ll be one company. What made this possible is the shared values we have with Chris, Ted and the colleagues and partners at ICM. We will all end up working in one physical space.”

They weren’t sure when that will happen, and when we surmised they’ll move into CAA’s spacious Century City headquarters, Lourd quipped “Luckily Chris, being a psychic, chose a space that is a walk from where we are now. So it will be like New York City, a walk back and forth, a lot. No decisions beyond that.”

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