Gersh Agency Sells Minority Stake to Crestview Partners, Promotes Leslie Siebert to Co-President

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After nearly 75 years of family ownership, Gersh Agency has sold a 45% stake in the company to private equity firm Crestview Partners.

Gersh Agency chiefs Bob Gersh and David Gersh said the investment from Crestview is designed to help the agency grow in new areas to better represent its core client base. The deal calls for the brothers to continue to stay at the helm. Leslie Siebert, Gersh Agency veteran who has long served as managing partner, has been promoted to co-president status alongside Bob and David Gersh.

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Gersh Agency’s sale comes as all of its major talent agency competitors have brought in additional partners and investors to help provide much-needed resources and financial support for a notoriously volatile business. The brothers assert they will maintain control even as they bring in capital from Crestview. In 2019, Crestview Partners acquired a one-third stake in ICM Partners for about $150 million — a deal that was monetized last year when CAA bought ICM Partners in a deal valued at about $750 million.

“For over seven decades, we have maintained our independence as an agency because we felt this allowed us to be the firmest advocates for our clients,” Bob Gersh said in a statement. “We knew we found the right partners in Crestview, as it was clear they were completely aligned with our agency ethos, and that they would bring to bear meaningful experience and infrastructure to support our continued growth as a client-first agency.”

David Gersh added, “We are very proud of our agency and all we, and our clients, have accomplished together. The opportunity to partner with Crestview will provide us greater flexibility to advance as an institution. We have a prestigious, diverse, and tightly held group of agents and clients. We will continue our unique brand of representation and will always hold ourselves to the highest standard of hands-on bespoke representation. We will be aggressive in our growth while never abandoning what makes us special to our clients or our team.”

Crestview Partners last year scored with the sale of Industrial Media, an unscripted production company assembled through the rollup of several small shops, to Sony Pictures Entertainment in a $350 million deal. Crestview was founded in 2004 and has about $10 billion in assets under management by its partners.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Gersh on the agency’s next growth stage,” said Brian Cassidy, Crestview’s co-president and head of media. “We have long admired Gersh’s unwavering commitment to best-in-class client representation and are honored to become Gersh’s first equity partner in the agency’s long and storied history.”

Gersh Agency formally opened its doors in 1949, founded by Phil Gersh, father of Bob and David, after he served in the Army during World War II. He’d worked for famed talent agent Sam Jaffe (and later bought out his agency) as well as Famous Artists Agency before hanging out his own shingle. Bob Gersh joined the family firm in the late 1970s; David Gersh signed on in the late 1980s after establishing himself as a lawyer. At present, Gersh Agency has about 300 employees, including 125 agents, across nine departments in Beverly Hills and New York.

Steven Siebert and Leslie Siebert at the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images)
Leslie Siebert (Photo by Michael Buckner/Variety via Getty Images)

Siebert’s elevation comes as part of a “long-planned management transition,” Gersh Agency stated. Siebert, who has been with Gersh since the mid-1990s, represents a slew of top TV and film stars and is well-respected in the industry.

“Our partnership with Crestview and our new management structure, made up of a strong leadership team, is an exciting next step in continuing the agency’s momentum and success,” Siebert said. “Our core principles have always guided us to provide our clients with more detailed and targeted career opportunities. That focus on the business of client representation will not change.”

Crestview’s link with Gersh Agency brings even more private equity money into the business of Hollywood talent representation. CAA and WME have had private equity majority owners for years. UTA last year stuck a deal to sell a minority stake to firm EQT. In 2015, UTA received an influx from investor Jeffrey Ubben.

Private equity players see investing in talent agencies as a means of tapping into the profit potential around star talent to drive eye-popping paydays and entrepreneurial business opportunities. As with Gersh, private equity money in talent agencies is designed to build skills and expertise at a time when talent have more business opportunities than ever to consider in dealmaking.

“Gersh has a sterling reputation for client representation and an extraordinary track record of growth. We look forward to building value together with the entire Gersh team, and believe we are particularly well suited to help the agency continue prospering in the years ahead,” said Patrick LaValley, a principal at Crestview.

Gersh was advised in the transaction by investment bank Houlihan Lokey and Sidley Austin LLP. Crestview was advised by Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.

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