Ari Emanuel Not Interested In Buying UTA After CAA & ICM Deal

“No,” a blunt Ari Emanuel told the Code Conference at the Beverly Hilton tonight when asked if he would buy UTA now CAA bought ICM Partners yesterday. “We don’t need it,” The Endeavor CEO said that he appreciated CAA for wanting to grow.

Joking that he appreciated CAA for “validating my strategy in 2008” of wanting to grow “organically,” Emanuel noted with a verbal shiv: ICM has not been what it used to be 15 years ago”

A veteran on the red chair sit-down with Kara Swisher, the often-pugilistic Endeavor boss’s rescheduled latest appearance comes one day after the Tinseltown agency landscape had a seismic shift with CAA’s purchase of ICM Partners becoming public.

“I think what they bought was five incredible TV writers, Emanuel quipped to Swisher when the NYT columnist asked what CAA actually got out of the multi-million deal. “They bought a very good book business and a very good soccer rep business out of Europe,” He said so.

He tossed in. Endeavor, never one to be willing to lose a new cycle of business, grabbed its fair share of headlines Monday with the $1.2 million cash and stock purchase by sports betting provider OpenBet.

The last of the big agencies to declare “uncle” in the legal and PR battle with the WGA over the union’s successful campaign to end the lucrative practice of packaging, WME’s time in the labor octagon was a match worth of the Endeavor-owned UFC. WME Independent, which provides film financing consulting services and film sales in domestic and internationally, was established this week by Endeavor Content’s sale of its majority stake. The proceeds will be used to comply with the WGA’s packaging phasing out requirements.

Looking at the stock market, Endeavor’s had a pretty decent run since going public in late April. Nothing flashy, shares jumped with the OpenBet news yesterday and really popped today – up 6% in a terrible market. The response from the Street makes sense as the company has been focusing heavily on sports/sports betting and is going to combine OpenBet with IMG Arena and start breaking that out as a fourth reporting segment in its quarterly earnings (along with Owned Sports Properties; Events, Experiences & Rights; and Representation).

“I think it went off pretty well,” Emanuel offered of the company’s second IPO effort, after having pulled the plug in the 11th hour previously.

Overall, Endeavor taking a bit of a different direction from a combined CAA-ICM that seem to say  representation is the focus. Emanuel really wanted an IPO to have a currency for deals and he’s using it. He has insisted the tactic to be utilized judiciously because the company’s debt still needs to de-leverage. In that vein, Emanuel yesterday called the OpenBet deal “transformational.”

Some free-floating enthusiasm re: agency M&A after yesterday’s news may be boosting Endeavor shares as well. They closed Tuesday at $28.89, up nearly 6% (major indexes were way down)

The Code Conference continues until tomorrow.

Jill Goldsmith contributed to the report. 

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