ICM Agents Are Lawyering Up Pre-Merger

Matthew Belloni
October 3, 2021

ICM Partners agents and employees are scrambling for options in the wake of CAA’s deal this week to acquire the agency. The expectation is that most people—particularly those not attached to marquee TV creator clients or the coveted books and sports departments—will be cut loose in the transition. Some shared services employees—IT, finance, communications, legal and business affairs—were even told this week that they should prepare resumes, I’m told. (ICM says “not true.”) And Ted Chervin, the agency’s No. 2, is said to have told agents in the lucrative TV lit department that he’s “no longer in charge” and can’t protect anyone. It’s gonna get ugly.   

So it’s not surprising that a couple top entertainment litigators tell me they’ve been fielding calls from ICM people (and a few vulnerable CAA folks) all week. Anyone with a contract wants to know their rights, particularly since ICM positioned itself as a “partnership” with shared ownership, and CAA is acquiring the company in a stock transaction. There’s a rumor going around that ICM teed up employee deals to end around the time that the acquisition is expected to close, but ICM says that’s “preposterous,” and I agree, it seems to ascribe a bit more forethought to this transaction than my sources say existed.

Meanwhile, an under-appreciated player in the deal is Crestview Partners, the private equity firm that invested $150 million in ICM for about a one-third stake in December 2019. That was right before the pandemic, which really hurt all the agencies, and apparently agitated Crestview about its new position. So when ICM’s Chris Silbermann began getting serious with the CAA guys, Crestview was more than happy to push for the deal. (ICM says that’s “completely false.” Also: TPG, the majority owner of CAA, is an investor in Puck.)