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Head of Luxury Goods Maker Kering Buys Majority Stake in Talent Agency CAA



In a deal that shows the ever-growing convergence of fashion and fame, François-Henri Pinault, the French billionaire and chief executive of the luxury goods company Kering, said on Thursday that his family office had bought a majority stake in one of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies, Creative Artists Agency.

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

The announcement comes as talent — actors, singers, filmmakers — has become a uniquely powerful tool in selling products. Celebrities, be they actors, athletes or social media stars, give a brand direct access to legions of followers and are handsomely paid for that access. There is now a growing race among fashion brands to lock in relationships with the next big name.

“There’s no separation between fashion and entertainment any more,” said Robert Burke, the founder of an eponymous luxury consultancy, calling the deal a “natural, if unprecedented, evolution.”

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

The deal offers Artémis “increased diversity, both in terms of geographical footprint and business activities, to our other assets,” Mr. Pinault said in a statement. “CAA’s exceptional insight, relationships and access across key sectors, combined with their widely regarded level of collaboration and innovation, gives the company a formidable role in driving global opportunities.”

CAA has been led by the powerhouse trio of Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane and Richard Lovett, and they will remain as chairmen, according to a news release about the deal. Mr. Lourd will be named chief executive when the deal closes.

The private equity firm TPG first took a 35 percent stake in CAA in 2010, before broadening its hold on the talent agency to 53 percent four years later. Artémis is acquiring that majority stake, according to the news release, though it did not specify the price tag.

The agency’s rivals, meanwhile, have raced to scale up to strengthen their negotiating power with streaming powerhouses like Amazon, Netflix and Apple.

United Talent Agency, which represents celebrities like Chris Pratt, Bad Bunny and Lizzo, bought the literary agency Fletcher & Company in January after acquiring the London-based Curtis Brown agency last year. The Endeavor Group, a CAA rival, acquired full control of the wrestling business Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2021 ahead of Endeavor’s initial public offering. Earlier this year, Endeavor struck a deal to merge U.F.C. with World Wide Wrestling as part of a new company.

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

These questions are especially pressing during the actors’ strike, as commercial work with brands remains one of the few avenues of income and profile-raising that the union, SAG-AFTRA, approves.

“Even if it’s managed separately, this offers enormous access to talent,” Mr. Burke said. As to whether other luxury moguls might follow Mr. Pinault’s lead and look to acquire their own talent agency, he added, “I’m never surprised by anyone in fashion following someone else’s smart idea.”




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