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The Inside Story Of The Deal – Deadline


When UTA introduced its shock acquisition of London-based Curtis Brown Group final month, it was heralded as an aggressive and strategic transfer into the UK expertise area, inflicting trade on each side of the pond to sit down up and take discover. U.S. companies have been canvassing UK corporations for quite a few years however this deal marks the splashiest effort but and probably attracts UTA nearer to main expertise on Curtis Brown’s books corresponding to Robert Pattinson, Margaret Atwood and John le Carré.

There at the moment are query marks surrounding the sharing of expertise, potential structural modifications and what this would possibly imply for UK agenting at massive.

A present attention-grabbing case research entails British actor Joseph Quinn. After his breakout function as mop-haired metallic head Eddie Munson within the fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Issues, Quinn has grow to be probably the most in-demand rising UK skills up for grabs within the U.S. company sphere. He’s repped by Curtis Brown and Deadline understands that he and his British agent, Sam Turnbull, have met with the entire three main U.S. companies – the newly bulked-up CAA (following the acquisition of ICM), WME and UTA – to debate a possible signing. That is an indicator that, for now a minimum of, it stays enterprise as typical for Curtis Brown and UTA.

Whereas there aren’t any indicators but that UTA goes to demand Curtis Brown ship its greatest British shoppers their approach, many throughout the wider company group are questioning whether or not it will change down the road.

UK foothold

Whereas many U.S. companies are weighing up stronger footholds within the UK, it’s not at all times simply achieved. Most lately, WME deliberate to launch a UK workplace in 2019 below revered literary agent Wealthy Cook dinner. Inevitably, not all UK brokers have been thrilled on the prospect. Finally, the arrival of Covid meant the plan was scuppered and Cook dinner later left the company and have become a companion at Vary Media Companions.

The UTA take care of Curtis Brown may be very completely different and by aligning itself with one of many oldest literary companies within the enterprise with a robust connection to IP, UTA shall be hoping it could steal a march on U.S. rivals in an important abroad market.

May the transfer be a precursor to a lot larger structural modifications and extra consolidation? And, as many are questioning, is that this the start of the ‘Americanization’ of UK agenting the place Hollywood companies will swallow up UK corporations to realize better long-term cultural affect?

UTA has harassed it won’t alter the Curtis Brown mannequin and says there’s a deep respect for the tradition of the 123-year-old UK company. For now, there aren’t any plans to merge the 2 companies and every entity will function facet by facet. Cuts are usually not anticipated, the agency additionally mentioned.

“This acquisition relies on our deep respect for Curtis Brown Group’s management, staff and tradition, in addition to nice respect for all of our UK companions and our longstanding approach of doing enterprise collectively,” UTA instructed Deadline.

The company insists the deal is basically higher for its shoppers, opening up extra alternatives throughout each side of the Atlantic. Certainly, each corporations have been on paths of growth in the previous few years and we hear there’s little urge for food for main cultural overhaul.

“After all our workers had questions at first however they have been rapidly reassured that this deal was based on an admiration for one another’s enterprise and a deep respect for our longstanding relationships with different company companions within the UK and the U.S.,” Curtis Brown Group CEO Jonny Geller instructed Deadline. “Our staff are genuinely enthusiastic concerning the alternatives this presents our shoppers, in addition to the potential for the companies’ continued progress.”

Throughout the UK and U.S. company areas, there are differing views on the sustainability of such a mannequin.

“These are two deserving, high quality corporations,” mentioned the CEO of 1 main Brit company. “It’s troublesome to merge the cultures of two companies.”

Others are much less satisfied about compatibility: “There isn’t any approach on the planet that you just purchase it to depart it the identical in the long run,” mentioned one senior Brit agent with good information of the businesses.

A number of sources have alleged to us {that a} long-term play may see the corporate flip into an American bridgehead — a ‘UTA Europe.’

Whereas it’s arduous to foretell the place any enterprise within the trade shall be in a number of years, one veteran UK agent and media investor warned: “UTA wants to depart Curtis Brown alone. YMU insisted on rebranding Troika and that went downhill in a short time. They may write ‘a UTA firm’ in small print, I suppose.”

The Curtis Brown story & what’s subsequent?

Curtis Brown, based in 1899 and now led by CEO Geller, boasts greater than 240 workers and represents actors corresponding to Robert Pattinson, Stanley Tucci, Dev Patel, the following star of Physician Who Ncuti Gatwa, his Intercourse Schooling co-star Emma Mackey, and Gugu Mbatha-Uncooked, amongst others in sturdy TV, movie and theatre departments. The corporate’s revered literary enterprise represents the estates of authors together with Atwood (The Handmade’s Story), Winston Churchill, le Carré, James Bond creator Ian Fleming, Daphne du Maurier, A.A. Milne, John Steinbeck, Matt Haig and Nigella Lawson.

Geller, broadly thought of one among London’s most related brokers, joined Curtis Brown in 1993 as an assistant and labored his approach as much as CEO of the company in 2012. He later grew to become head of the broader Curtis Brown Group, which was shaped after a ten% minority stake was bought to BBC Worldwide (now BBC Studios) again in 2016. At that time, Curtis Brown grew to become a mixed company, manufacturing and administration group and growth grew to become the secret: Curtis Brown merged with Markham Froggatt and Irwin in 2020 after buying Tavistock Wooden and Meryl Hoffman Administration in 2018 and Ed Victor and DAA Administration in 2017, having already purchased C+W in 2014. It additionally owns McMafia and Coalition producer Cuba Footage and The Pursuit of Love co-producer Open E-book Productions.

The agency had lengthy been mulling a sale to broaden its enterprise and increase its relevance within the international market. The actual fact it has dealt with worldwide e book gross sales for ICM’s publishing division for greater than a decade, many anticipated ICM to be the client. We hear that choice was explored, however that curiosity dissolved when CAA purchased ICM for $750M final month. Now ICM’s long-term e book affiliate is a part of one other main U.S. company.

“I think about CAA will remedy that downside by hiring their very own worldwide staff, possibly even from Curtis Brown,” mentioned the top of 1 main U.S. company.

We’ve heard recommendations that had a deal not made with UTA, Curtis Brown might have appeared to boost personal cash so it may broaden into Europe in addition to branding and podcasts. A number of sources estimate the acquisition to have price within the area of $40M however UTA and Curtis Brown declined to remark.

For UTA, aligning itself with a vibrant UK enterprise places extra oil in its tank. With the continued manufacturing growth within the UK, having seasoned Brits on the bottom who know the lay of the land can be a extra genuine approach for UTA to faucet into one other inventive market.

The deal is the newest in a string of strategic investments for UTA, which final month purchased information and analytics firm MediaHound, bringing proprietary software program to the corporate (nice for offers with these data-driven streamers), and final yr acquired media consulting firm MediaLink for $125M.

“Curtis Brown is a superb company. They’ve terrific brokers and scale,” mentioned one U.S. agent from a UTA rival, whereas including that they’ve spoken to a number of brokers contained in the British firm who’re questioning what the long run holds.

Certainly questions have been rife amongst sources we heard from, too. Most raised queries round commissioning buildings — will shoppers with Curtis Brown and UTA illustration wish to pay the identical firm twice? May they search lowered phrases or does consolidation finally present UTA/Curtis Brown with a compelling case to realize a aggressive benefit? Deadline hears that, for now, if a Curtis Brown shopper indicators with UTA, the expertise will obtain two units of fee according to market charges.

And the way will British brokers who share shoppers with UTA really feel? In line with a UK agent supply, “actually paranoid, as a result of what’s in it for UTA apart from to attempt to transfer them?” Curtis Brown and UTA will see this very otherwise however our supply contended: “Numerous the relationships shall be disrupted on a micro stage.”

The supply added “delighted” rival brokers will design a story for potential shoppers claiming that shifting to Curtis Brown will imply being managed by the U.S. and being pressured to signal with UTA. No matter whether or not it’s true, it’s a compelling story and UTA might want to preserve Curtis Brown brokers blissful.

“That’s an issue within the expertise enterprise – probably the most precious belongings aren’t within the constructing on daily basis, so you must be certain their brokers keep,” mentioned one British supply, who was beforehand the MD of a significant London administration agency. “If I have been UTA I’d tread rigorously, particularly for the primary yr. You wish to preserve the spirit of the best way Curtis has been run.”

Larger image

So what’s the broader image? With so many streamers within the nation, some have mused to us that UK expertise will start choosing a single agent with entry to the most important consumers to supervise all their affairs.

“The idea of getting separate UK and U.S. illustration is more and more being questioned by shoppers,” mentioned one LA agent. “With the nearer connection between UK and U.S. tv, specifically, it appears one thing that wants adjustment.”

A senior British agent added this might imply extra M&A: “There might be a medium-to-long time period merger of the markets, which is able to successfully imply that the Individuals flip up and the UK simply will get absorbed. It began occurring with manufacturing corporations about 10-15 years in the past, and also you’ll begin to see that right here.”

One supply mentioned the following “apparent step” shall be extra growth of UTA and CAA within the M&An area in Europe, with each preventing for extra scale and entry to IP throughout the continent. WME is known to be carefully contemplating the way it subsequent approaches Blighty.

This might put corporations corresponding to Casarotto Ramsay & Associates, Impartial Expertise and United Brokers in play (although there are a number of concerned the reason why every of those corporations might be difficult to amass). Administration agency 42, which produces and manages expertise, lately bought a minority stake to Lionsgate, as we revealed in March. Nameless Content material has been placing partnerships throughout Europe, whereas CAA and Endeavor Content material (now bought to CJ ENM) has additionally been investing in European corporations.

One established agent mentioned U.S. companies are “watching intently,” blissful within the information UTA has made the primary important transfer within the UK (a minimum of throughout this period). One other steered this can be a prime alternative for a number of of those European corporations to boost some capital to arrange a bigger European company.

That very same supply additionally steered that an over saturation of illustration corporations may herald the start of an period the place there may be extra direct battle between completely different sorts of illustration corporations, whether or not company or administration.

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