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United Talent Agency looks to buy gaming, digital media companies with new SPAC

United Talent Agency's office in Beverly Hills.
(United Talent Agency)

United Talent Agency, a former Nintendo executive and others are sponsoring a new acquisition company focused on gaming and other areas of digital media and entertainment.

The special purpose acquisition company called UTA Acquisition Corp. begins trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange Thursday at $10 a share. UTAA expects to raise at least $200 million from the offering, which will close Dec. 6.

“We believe that there are a wide range of opportunities in gaming and related areas of digital media, the creator economy, entertainment and technology,” UTAA said in a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. “We believe a number of underlying dynamics behind this disruption create a need for investment capital to fund growth and meet increased demand and that our management team is well-positioned to evaluate potential targets.”

The new venture is the latest example of Hollywood’s growing use of special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, which are created by groups of investors as a way to raise money on Wall Street for the purpose of funding acquisitions. Former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal is involved in a SPAC called Forest Road Acquisition Corp. to do deals in tech, media and telecommunications.

Special purpose acquisition companies are all the rage. Here’s why former studio executives are getting in on the craze.

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UTAA said it plans to acquire a company that has compelling intellectual property, potential to scale and a proven operating team.

UTAA’s chairman is Reginald Fils-Aimé, former president and chief operating officer of Nintendo of America. Its co-chief executives are Clinton Foy, a general partner of venture capital at UTA, and Jamie Sharp, a former business development manager at Google. The acquisition company’s president is Ophir Lupu, who leads UTA’s gaming and esports businesses.

The company’s sponsor is a partnership among affiliates of talent agency UTA, members of the management team and Connaught, a financial advisory and merchant banking firm, according to a document filed with the SEC.

“We plan to utilize our sponsor’s combined capabilities to generate a wide array of potential business combination opportunities that are differentiated and proprietary,” UTAA said.

UTA, founded in 1991 and based in Beverly Hills, has over the years expanded its business in gaming, digital media and influencers. The business has been an advisor on more than 20 gaming- and entertainment-related transactions since 2018, including the January sale of Klei Entertainment of Vancouver, Canada, to Tencent. The talent agency also represents gamers including Nickmercs and Pokimane.

Gaming has become a bigger focus for entertainment companies as younger consumers spend more time playing video games or watching others livestream their gameplay. A Deloitte study released this year said that 26% of people born from 1997 to 2007 said their favorite entertainment activity was playing video games, compared with 10% who would prefer watching a movie or TV at home.

Streaming giant Netflix in July announced that it would offer mobile games to its subscribers and in September acquired Glendale-based game developer Night School Studio.

Talent agencies are also adapting as gaming, digital media and entertainment converge.

In April, Endeavor, the parent company of talent agency WME, went public, raising $511 million.

Century City-based Creative Artist Agency buys ICM Partners for an undisclosed price.

In September, ICM Partners said it would be acquired by Century City-based Creative Artists Agency.


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