Creative Artists Agency has been purchased by Francois-Henri Pinault, a French billionaire who has replaced TPG as the primary owner of Hollywood’s two talent agency superpowers through his family investment company Artemis.
The diversified shop CAA, which conducts business for clients ranging from Tom Cruise to Squishmallows, has joined Artemis’ $40 billion asset portfolio, including Kering (the luxury goods group that owns Gucci and Saint Laurent), Christie’s auction house, and Château Latour. The transaction, valued at $7 billion, is not yet established, but CAO is firmly majority control.
The leadership of the agency’s ruling triumvirate, which includes Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane, and Richard Lovett, has been confirmed, although details were not disclosed in a formal announcement on Thursday. LOURD will be named CEO after the Artemis transaction concludes, but the timeline for his appointment was not provided. Jim Burtson, the leader of CAA deal team, will remain President of California Association of American Administrators (CAA).
Lourd, Lovett, Huvane and Burtson praised Pinault and his team leader Hélose Temple-Boyer and Alban Greget in a joint statement. They commended Pinaurus’s strategic expertise, invaluable support, and friendship over 13 years as they enjoyed significant growth and success together and look forward to working with them on projects in the future.
The decision to appoint Lourd as the CEO was made to facilitate CAA’s commitment to the Artemis business model, which is similar to other Artémis companies. LOURD, Lovett, and Huvane have been recognized as industry pioneers over the past two decades and are respected by both talent and management. They plan to remain active as hands-on agents for their long-term clients in the current climate of rumors about the artemis deal.
CAA’s agreement with Kering brings branding closer to the entertainment industry and allows the organization to gain a significant French foothold, which allows it to participate in European film and TV production by acquiring local vehicles. Meanwhile, KerING has made notable strides in the film industry in recent years, including being commissioned by the Cannes Film Festival and co-hosting ICEF’S Women in Motion initiative, where female actors, filmmakers, and producers have been featured. Pinault is married to Salma Hayek, whose company that she represents an official charity.
Earlier this year, there were rumors about the stake sale, and discussions began in mid-July. Temasek, a Singapore-based investment firm, will remain primarily pursuing minority investments in CAA, while CMC Capital in China, led by former Shanghai Media Group chairman Ruigang Li, retains its status as’strategic partner’ for CAAF.
The investment made by TPG in CAA was a significant private equity bet, as it sent shockwaves through Hollywood due to the volatile nature of both sectors. As time passed and the board realized that CAE would not prosper under another umbrella, investors expressed confidence in the agency’s ability to tap into the potential reach given to talent and pop culture.
TPG’s Coulter revealed to Variety in 2020 that CAA was invested in not for its transformation but because of its original purpose. It is a unique place.
The transaction between Artemis and Coulter was deemed the most favorable by him on Thursday. “The opportunity to work with CAA during a time of significant change in the media and entertainment industry has been highly rewarding. Over the past 13 years, CAE has expanded its reach globally as the premier gateway for talent and content creators, according to CoULTER’s statement. We look forward to their partnership every year.” He added that HBO now offers an extensive range of programs including Adult Swim and SexWorks products.
The Pinault agreement is in line with the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA ongoing labor strikes, which have further strained the agency landscape. It also follows CAA’s acquisition of ICM Partners, one of several new ventures to strengthen its TV literary and publishing units.
CAA’s transition occurred more than two years ago when WME, the parent company of its main rival, went public through a listing on Endeavor. Endeaves has instead invested in assets in various fields such as content creation, distribution, technology, and sports to establish specialized talent-to-content flywheel systems. The announcement of the CAE deal resulted in Endeavour shares rising 10 cents to $21.61 in midday trading on Thursday, with news of this merger.
The agency’s divisions encompass film, television, theater, music, video games, publishing, and fashion. CAA was financially advised by Allen & Company LLC, while Artémis received legal advice from Rothschild LLP, Cleary Gottlieb Steen e.H. steinman, solicitors, or attorneys at Rothsian (Pfizer), who worked with TPG. Temasek was represented by counsel in the following cases: Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen – Ogilvy Architects.
The report was aided by Elsa Keslassy and Cynthia Littleton.
Francois-Henri Pinault of Artemis and CAA leaders Kevin Huvane, Bryan Lourd, and Richard Lovett (pictured)