ICM Partners acquires minority stake in Swedish talent agency
ICM Partners has acquired a minority stake in Swedish representation business Albatros Agency, further expanding ICM’s presence in Europe.
“Working together we can help them build the best literary agency in Europe,” said ICM Partners CEO Chris Silbermann in a statement. “Scandinavia is exploding with world-class talent that we can cross over into the domestic U.S. market, while ICM Partners clients will be exposed to even greater opportunities internationally.”
Century City-based ICM Partners declined to disclose the percentage of its ownership or financial terms of the deal.
Albatros, founded in 2017, represents directors and screenwriters in film and TV, including Swedish screenwriter and film director Peter Grönlund and Swedish director and author Björn Runge.
Crestview Partners is investing about $150 million in ICM Partners in exchange for a one-third minority stake in the talent agency, a source says.
Pete Stone, a partner at ICM Partners, will move to Sweden and work with Albatros’ managing partners, Martina Österling and Elin Sandström Lundh.
“We have gotten to know, like and trust Chris and Pete and truly appreciate their belief in us, our talent and the Scandinavian market and we look forward to growing our agency together with them,” Österling and Sandström Lundh said in a statement.
Since ICM Partners took roughly $150 million in private equity financing from Crestview Partners in December, the agency has been on a path of expansion abroad. In exchange, Crestview received a roughly one-third minority ownership stake in ICM Partners.
In March, ICM Partners acquired United Kingdom-based live music booking agency Primary Talent International. ICM Partners employs roughly 500 people.
This week, ICM Partners also announced that Simon Clarkson, who worked at rival agency WME for eight years, was joining to lead ICM Partners’ domestic Electronic Music Department, as the agency is looking to expand globally. His clients include Skrillex, Alison Wonderland and San Holo.
Other Hollywood agencies have also boosted their presence abroad, including A3 Artists Agency (formerly known as Abrams Artists Agency) which opened its first international office in London in January. Meanwhile, streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon are working on local-language productions in countries outside of the U.S., in an effort to grow their global audience.
“The world is just getting more horizontal,” Silbermann said an interview. “Now you can succeed in those indigenous markets because they have developed excellent levels of talent, coupled with increased production budgets, making them vibrant markets. Once streamers started investing there, the growth has been exponential, and we want to capitalize on that for our clients.”
ICM Partners became the second of the four major talent agencies to sign a deal with the Writers Guild of America after a more than yearlong dispute over practices like packaging, when agencies collect a fee from studios for pulling together talent for projects. The guild has instructed its writers not to be represented by any agency that does not have an agreement with the union.
As part of its franchise agreement with the WGA, ICM Partners agreed to end packaging in two years. The deal also allows the agency to have up to a 20% ownership stake in a production company, though ICM has no such plans.
“We’re singularly focused on being representatives,” Silbermann said.
Major talent agencies Creative Artists Agency and William Morris Endeavor have yet to reach a deal with the WGA and are also engaged in a legal battle with the union.
The pressure to expand internationally comes as talent agencies, along with other businesses in the entertainment industry, have taken a hit from delayed or canceled productions and live events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some agencies have laid off, furloughed, cut salaries or reduced the work hours of their staffs.
In June, ICM Partners said it would lay off 40 of its support staff and raise the wages of its assistants to $20 an hour, up from $15 an hour, citing the need to cut costs and improve its assistants program.
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