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UTA buys the Agency Group

UTA buys the Agency Group
The Agency Group represents The Black Keys, who played a sold-out show at the Forum in Los Angeles in 2014. The band was started by longtime friends Dan Auerbach, guitar, shown here, and Patrick Carey, drums. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

In a move to significantly bolster its music business, United Talent Agency announced Thursday that it acquired the Agency Group, the world's largest independent music agency.

The Agency Group represents some of the biggest global touring and live music artists, including Muse, Paramore and the Black Keys. The company has more than 95 agents operating out of  offices in London, Los Angeles, New York and several other cities.

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The Agency Group will be combined with UTA's existing music division, giving the agency representation across multiple genres, including rock, hip-hop, jazz, classical, indie and reggae.

The Agency Group founder Neil Warnock will become head of music for UTA. Agency Group Chief Executive Gavin O'Reilly will step down from his position, UTA said in a statement.

The deal comes at a time when the recording industry has been suffering from the decline of online music sales and traditional CDs. Nonetheless, the touring business remains robust, making companies like the Agency Group appealing targets for agencies such as UTA.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The acquisition marks the latest expansion for UTA, which last year acquired N.S. Bienstock, a talent agency that represented television news personalities including Bill O'Reilly, Anderson Cooper, Robin Roberts and Megyn Kelly. N.S. Bienstock, which is headquartered in New York, has approximately 40 employees, about half of whom are agents.

UTA made waves earlier this when it brought over a number of agents from Creative Artists Agency, underscoring its ambitions to expand operations.

Separately, UTA announced it had accepted an undisclosed minority investment from hedge fund manager Jeffrey Ubben, whose is founder and chief executive of ValueAct Capital, which has investments in 21st Century Fox, Microsoft, Adobe and CB Richard Ellis.  Ubben becomes a minority shareholder of UTA and a non-voting member of the agency's board of directors.

UTA said the investment will help finance "strategic initiatives" such as the Agency Group acquisition.

The investment is the latest example of Wall Street taking interest in a talent agency. Investors have pumped more than $1 billion into the two largest talent agencies, William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency, over the last five years, enabling them to expand into new arenas outside Hollywood including sports, technology, fashion and food.

Twitter: @rverrier

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