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Parlez-Vous CAA?

In finding a synergistic private buyer in François-Henri Pinaul, whose $40 billion in assets include Kering and Christie’s, TPG managed to thread the needle.
In finding a synergistic private buyer in François-Henri Pinaul, whose $40 billion in assets include Kering and Christie’s, TPG managed to thread the needle. Photo: Laurent Koffel/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
September 8, 2023

It’s a great day at What I’m Hearing HQ when a monolithic private equity firm can extract billions of dollars in value from an investment in Meryl Streep. You think I’m joking, but Hollywood sort of doesn’t work unless money—both dumb and smart—continues to be attracted to a business that often makes zero sense. For every Megan Ellison, whose Annapurna lost so much of her father Larry’s money that he basically called the lawyer Skip Brittenham and staged an intervention, there needs to be a Kevin Ulrich, who pumped billions of his Anchorage Capital money into MGM, stuck around for years, and finally flipped the whole troubled studio to Amazon and made his firm $2 billion in profit.

These days, film and television production is basically shut down by labor strikes, and the bottom is falling out of both the pay TV bundle and the theatrical film business. So the fact that TPG, a P.E. firm that invested a big chunk of money into the flailing studio STX Entertainment (yikes) and endured the recent bankruptcy of Vice Media (double yikes), can buy a majority stake in CAA, stay in the very peculiar representation business for 13 years, and not merely escape but emerge with a decent exit—that’s reason to celebrate. (The usual disclosure: TPG also is an investor in Puck.)