Monday, January 17, 2022

Merger of talent agencies CAA and ICM draws DOJ scrutiny

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According to the report, the Justice Department is investigating a major Hollywood deal that is ready to disrupt the talent agency ecosystem and the entertainment industry.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the DOJ is investigating the CAA’s acquisition of ICM, two major Hollywood talent agencies that are one of Tinseltown’s biggest stars.

The agency, represented by CAA, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Scarlett Johansson, announced in September that it would buy ICM, home to Shonda Rhimes, Alec Baldwin and Uma Thurman, and said the deal would close by the end of 2021.

But a new DOJ inquiry into how the merger between the two major agencies will affect the Hollywood landscape has delayed an agreement expected to close in the second quarter of this year, anonymous sources told THR on Wednesday.

The CAA, ICM, and DOJ did not immediately respond to comment requests.

The CAA’s agreement to acquire ICM, the fourth-largest agency after WME, CAA and UTA, is under scrutiny by the DOJ.

If the deal between CAA and ICM closes, the talent agency landscape will have three key players in the Endeavor-owned WME, CAA and UTA, as well as smaller competitors such as APA, Gersh and Paradigm.

The DOJ’s antitrust department, led by Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, has already spoken to senior CAA and ICM executives, as well as some outsiders such as APA Director General Jim Gosnel, a THR source said.

The source said the investigation may have started after unions such as the American Writers ’Union of Hollywood and SAG-AFTRA expressed their concerns.

CAA Officer Brian Lourd
CAA official Brian Lourd said he was “very confident” that the ICM acquisition process would take place, but now the deal’s closing date appears to have been postponed due to a DOJ inspection.

Following the initial announcement of the CAA-ICM agreement, SAG-AFTRA national executive director Duncan Krabtri-Ireland said in a statement that the union would “use this combination of two-tier talent agencies to ensure that executors benefit and not suffer. will consider it carefully, “he said. by, agreement. ”

When THR contacted the CAA in September, co-chair Brian Lourd said he was “very confident” that the deal would work. But the DOJ’s antitrust department and the Federal Trade Commission have criticized the high volume of M&A activity under President Biden.

CAA's LA headquarters
The CAA is headquartered in Century City, Los Angeles. The agency represents A-listers such as Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep and George Clooney.

DOJ has sued ViacomCBS book publisher Simon & Shuster to block sales to Penguin Random House, and is concerned that the deal could “have a big impact on who and what is published and how much authors are paid for their work.”

There are other deals that can cause concern. These include Discovery’s merger deal with WarnerMedia, Amazon’s acquisition of the Hollywood MGM studio, and the merger of Spanish-language media giants Univision and Television.

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