CAA Reportedly Nears $7 Billion Sale Agreement With French Billionaire François-Henri Pinault

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CAA-repped Aerosmith performing live. Photo Credit: David W. Baker

A little over six weeks ago, Bloomberg reported that French billionaire François-Henri Pinault was in “advanced” talks to buy Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Now, the same outlet has provided additional details about the possible CAA sale, which is reportedly “close” to wrapping.

According to the newer of the reports pertaining to the potential buyout – which, Bloomberg went ahead and emphasized, could still “fall apart” – Pinault is specifically in talks to acquire the majority interest held by private equity firm TPG Inc. For reference, 61-year-old Pinault serves as president of his family’s Groupe Artémis, the entity behind Christie’s, Gucci owner Kering, and Puma, to name some.

Fort Worth-headquartered TPG, on the other hand, was founded in 1992, bought 35 percent of CAA in 2010, increased the stake to 53 percent (at a $1.1 billion valuation) in 2014, and went public (NASDAQ: TPG) in early 2022, according to reports.

Pinault would reportedly be purchasing TPG’s CAA holding as part of “a $7 billion deal”; the market cap of the private equity firm’s listed shares was hovering around $8.64 billion at the time of writing. Besides this reported deal – negotiations for which will conclude “in the next couple weeks,” per Bloomberg – the Singapore government’s Temasek Holdings investment company may be looking to increase its own CAA interest.

The latter would result from Temasek’s buying the stake held by Shanghai-based China Media Capital (CMC), which invested in CAA back in April of 2017 and, in connection with the agreement, set in motion the debut of CAA China.

Especially given the months of speculation regarding the sale of the Primary Wave backer CAA – and the conspicuous lack of public comment from the involved parties – it’ll be interesting to see whether an official deal is announced in the coming weeks or months.

More broadly, said deal would represent just the latest in a series of talent-space shakeups ushered in since 2020’s start. Thereafter, Providence Equity Partners-supported Wasserman Music formed by scooping up the troubled music division of Paradigm towards the beginning of 2021, before picking up the separate live music business of Paradigm UK in late April of 2022.

Additionally, UTA, after purchasing Echo Location and MediaLink in 2021, saw private equity firm EQT become its second-largest shareholder last year. More recently, WME in April of 2023 bulked up its Nashville agency representation with the buyout of Red 11 Music.

Lastly, CAA itself secured ownership of ICM Partners in a $750 million play in 2022 – the deal had first been announced in 2021 – before reportedly prepping layoffs across multiple divisions earlier this month.