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Luxury goods maker Kering acquires majority stake in talent agency CAA


In a deal that shows the ever-increasing convergence between fashion and celebrity, Francois-Henri Pinault, the French billionaire and chief executive of luxury goods company Kering, said on Thursday his family office had acquired a majority stake in one of Hollywood’s biggest groups. artistic agencies, Creative Artists Agency.

Mr. Pinault’s family office, Artemis, already has investments that include auction house Christie’s and a stake in Puma, and like them. CAA will be managed separately from Kering.

This announcement comes as talent – ​​actors, singers, filmmakers – have become a particularly powerful tool for selling products. Celebrities, whether actors, athletes, or social media stars, give a brand direct access to legions of followers and are paid handsomely for that access. There is now a growing race among fashion brands to forge relationships with the next big name.

“There is no longer a separation between fashion and entertainment,” said Robert Burke, founder of an eponymous luxury consultancy, calling the deal a “natural, albeit unprecedented, evolution.”

CAA clients include some of the most well-known celebrities: Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Zendaya — as well as Mr. Pinault’s wife, actress Salma Hayek Pinault, who is often next to her husband in the front row of runway shows Gucci and Balenciaga. fashion shows, two of the brands owned by Kering, and who wears their dresses on the red carpet.

The transaction provides Artémis with “increased diversity, both in terms of geographic footprint and business activities, compared to our other assets,” Pinault said in a statement. “CAA’s exceptional vision, relationships and access in key sectors, combined with its widely recognized level of collaboration and innovation, give the company a formidable role in creating global opportunities. »

CAA has been led by the power trio of Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane and Richard Lovett, and they will remain presidents, according to a press release regarding the deal. Mr. Lourd will be appointed General Manager once the transaction is completed.

Private equity firm TPG first took a 35 percent stake in CAA in 2010, before expanding its stake in the talent agency to 53 percent four years later. Artémis acquires this majority stake, according to the press release, without specifying the price.

The agency’s rivals, meanwhile, have been racing to bolster their bargaining power with streaming powerhouses like Amazon, Netflix and Apple.

United Talent Agency, which represents celebrities like Chris Pratt, Bad Bunny and Lizzo, bought literary agency Fletcher & Company in January after acquiring London-based agency Curtis Brown last year. CAA rival Endeavor Group acquired full control of the Ultimate Fighting Championship wrestling business in 2021 ahead of Endeavor’s IPO. Earlier this year, Endeavor reached an agreement to merge the UFC with World Wide Wrestling under a new company.

As these talent agencies grow – and become more associated with fashion – new questions may emerge about the nature of these relationships. Even if the new CAA is separate from Kering, for example, LVMH, the world’s leading luxury group, would it want to pay celebrities millions to represent its brands when it knows that a percentage of this payment will go to enrich a company with a relationship with its competitor?

These issues are particularly pressing during the actors’ strike, as commercial work with brands remains one of the few avenues of income and recognition that the SAG-AFTRA union endorses.

“Even though it’s run separately, it provides tremendous access to talent,” Burke said. On whether other luxury moguls might follow Mr. Pinault’s example and seek to acquire their own talent agency, he added: “I’m never surprised that anyone in the fashion world would follow the idea. someone else’s smarts.”