ValueAct’s Ubben Funds United Talent Agency Push Into Music

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Actress Angelina Jolie

Photographer: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

United Talent Agency, which represents Angelina Jolie and Chris Pratt, got a minority investment from activist investor Jeffrey Ubben, using some of the proceeds to buy the Agency Group and bolster its position in music.

The Agency Group books tours for acts including the Black Keys, Ringo Starr and Muse. The companies announced the agreement in an e-mailed statement Thursday. Ubben, chief executive officer of ValueAct Capital Management LLC, made a personal investment in UTA. Other financial terms weren’t given.

The acquisition reflects the most powerful agencies’ growing interest in new areas such as touring, sports and food. Creative Artists Agency LLC and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC operate music touring businesses and have brought in private-equity firms to fund recent deals. UTA recently lured rapper Kanye West away from CAA and recruited some of its top comedy agents.

“UTA’s brand and the strong leadership position the company for exceptional growth as the global demand for great content continues,” Ubben, whose firm holds stakes in Microsoft Corp. and 21st Century Fox Inc., said in the statement. “Building on a long tradition of success, UTA is making aggressive strategic investments across the media landscape.”

The minority investment from Ubben will also fund future deals, according to the statement. He will become a nonvoting member of the board. Moelis & Co. advised UTA.

The Agency Group, which has seven offices, employs 95 agents. Neil Warnock, founder and president, will be UTA’s head of worldwide music, reporting to the board. CEO Gavin O’Reilly will leave the Agency Group.

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