CAA Leaders, ICM Partners Chief on Whats Next for the Agencies After Blockbuster Deal

The talks that led to CAA acquiring ICM Partners came together in secret over a short period of time — so much so that longtime insiders at both agencies were learned of the deal moments before the news was formally announced on Monday.

To CAA’s trio of leaders — Bryan Lourd, Richard Lovett and Kevin Huvane — and ICM Partners’ chief Chris Silbermann, the fact that the talks were kept quiet was a sign that the leaders are temperamentally in sync.

“It’s a testament to the reason for the partnership” that word of the talks didn’t leak, Lovett told Variety. 

The deal raises a host of questions that are still unanswered — from the specific valuation placed on ICM, to how ICM’s leadership team will be integrated into CAA to the volume of layoffs that are inevitable in the union of businesses with so many overlapping operations.

It’s become clear that ICM’s strong publishing arm and its recent investment in U.K. soccer agency Stellar Group were among the big attractions for CAA. There’s speculation that the ICM moniker may be retained as branding for the publishing activities because ICM is the undisputed leader in the book field, but that could not be confirmed.

In a joint interview, Lourd, Lovett, Huvane and Silbermann emphasized that they agreed to link arms because they have similar visions of how to operate agencies and how to be most effective for clients. Both CAA and ICM have looked askance at recent years as WME and its parent Endeavor and to some degree UTA have branched out beyond the core Hollywood dealmaking market.

“For CAA our priority is to work for our clients and do everything we possibly can do best serve our clients and create opportunities for our clients,” Lourd said. He called Silbermann and ICM TV honcho Ted Chervin “like-minded partners” and said they would be a good fit “in the very special culture and environment we have here.”

Silbermann noted that while the talks to combine went swiftly, the agencies have had high-level “what if” conversations in the past.

“We’ve talked a long time about working together,” Silbermann said. “We’ve been on the same side of issues and projects together. And it’s been great. Sometimes we don’t agree with each other but we don’t agree in a way that is respectful. We are aligned and the more we talked about the way they look at the world and the way we look at the world … it felt right.”

Huvane added that he enjoyed long professional relationships with his counterparts at ICM, citing stalwart talent agent Toni Howard, and he noted that ICM’s famed Boaty Boatwright is among his key mentors. “There’s a lot of deep friendships there that will make it especially satisfying now,” Huvane said.

More to come

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