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CAA's Bryan Lourd: Yes, we're talking with investors

June 15, 2010 | 12:47 pm

A partner at Creative Artists Agency publicly acknowledged Tuesday that the entertainment and sports powerhouse has been in discussions with private equity funds.

In remarks made during the Financial Times' Business of Luxury Summit in Beverly Hills, CAA managing partner Bryan Lourd confirmed published reports that the agency is meeting with outside firms, which he declined to identify. According to the New York Times, the agency is in discussions with private equity and buyout giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and investment firm TPG Capital. BRYANLOURD2l5m6nc

CAA has been aggressively expanding its sports practice, and represents such athletes as NBA All Stars Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and soccer standouts David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo.

Lourd said all this growth -- including wooing top sports agents such as Tom Condon and Ken Kremer -- has been self-financed from internal funds.

"I'm told that's unusual. I'm told there's a better way," Lourd said during the morning keynote. 

Lourd said the discussions might not lead to a transaction, but CAA is interested in bringing smart people together in a room to discuss financial options. In the event that CAA brings in outside investors, Lourd said he and other top agents, Kevin Huvane, Richard Lovett and David O'Connor, would remain with the agency.

"That's not accurate that we'd ever turn over control of our company or leave," Lourd said. "We all love it."

Athletes and sports teams represent a potential growth business for the talent agencies, which are dealing with belt tightening in Hollywood. Film studios have been greenlighting fewer films and seeking to curb the amount of money spent on salaries and promotion. The television industry, similarly, is dealing with audience fragmentation and a deterioration of the syndication market, which can hurt the long-term value of television shows for agencies.

-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Agent Bryan Lourd, left, with James Schamus, co-president of Focus Features, in Cannes, France. Credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Focus Features