United Talent Agency (UTA) has secured fresh funding from private equity firm EQT as part of a strategic partnership aimed at accelerating UTA’s growth trajectory. As a result, EQT has acquired a minority stake in the talent agency.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but according to a joint media statement issued Monday (July 18), EQT will become UTA’s largest outside shareholder.
EQT is buying a minority stake in UTA from alternative investment firm Investcorp, which acquired its stake in UTA in 2018. In addition, EQT is acquiring a portion of existing stakes from continuing shareholders including PSP Investments.
Non-EQT shareholders (including UTA’s own leadership) continue to own a controlling stake in UTA subsequent to the deal.
“EQT is the perfect partner for UTA’s next phase of growth. They have deep international capabilities, a strong balance sheet, and most importantly they truly appreciate and respect the culture that we have built at UTA,” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said.
This isn’t the first time that EQT has made an investment in the music industry.
In 2017, the firm bought a 40% stake in Swedish royalty-free soundtrack provider Epidemic Sound and in 2021 took part in the company’s $450 million funding round that gave Epidemic a “unicorn plus” valuation of $1.4 billion. The capital allowed Epidemic to expand its business and user base.
UTA, which expanded its portfolio of recording artists to include Alice Cooper, Dolly Parton and Status Quo with its acquisition of UK-based The Agency Group in 2015, expects to benefit from EQT’s financial resources, in-house digital team and its global footprint to support the company’s investments in talent, innovation and international expansion.
The deal could help UTA better compete with its rival, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), also based in Los Angeles.
CAA recently acquired its rival ICM Partners in a deal that was reportedly valued at $750 million. That combined entity now has a pro-forma enterprise value of $5 billion, according to an earlier report.
UTA’s valuation, meanwhile, is not publicly available. However, The Information noted in 2018 that the agency was valued at $750 million following a funding round led by PSP Investments and Investcorp at the time.
Investcorp ceased to be a shareholder in UTA following the deal with EQT, although PSP remains a minority shareholder.
PSP Managing Director Martin Longchamps said “UTA has proven its abilities to perform, innovate and diversify as a leading entertainment company. We are excited to continue this journey with UTA and to welcome EQT.”
“UTA has proven its abilities to perform, innovate and diversify as a leading entertainment company. We are excited to continue this journey with UTA and to welcome EQT.”
Martin Longchamps, PSP
This isn’t the first time that EQT has made an investment in the music industry. In 2017, the firm bought a 40% stake in Swedish royalty-free soundtrack provider Epidemic Sound and in 2021 took part in the company’s $450 million funding round that gave Epidemic a “unicorn plus” valuation of $1.4 billion. The capital allowed Epidemic to expand its business and user base.
For UTA, the deal with EQT could help the agency bolster its international presence as the private equity firm has deep international capabilities and a strong balance sheet, according to Zimmer.
UTA’s business is mainly in the US, with offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Nashville, Los Angeles and New York. The company also has a presence in London, but unlike its rival CAA, the agency has yet to expand to Asia and other major global locations. CAA, on the other hand, has a presence in Beijing and Shanghai, and in Munich, Stockholm and Toronto.
UTA has been on an acquisition spree lately. Last month, the firm acquired UK literary and talent agency The Curtis Brown Group, around six months after buying strategic advisory firm MediaLink. In 2019, it made a strategic investment in Klutch Sports Group, which represents top US athletes.
The deal with EQT is expected to close later in July. EQT made the investment in UTA through its EQT X fund. The private equity firm currently manages €77 billion euros in assets across 36 active funds in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Americas.Music Business Worldwide