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SBD/April 11, 2013/FinancePrint All
CAA is working with N.Y.-based boutique investment bank LionTree Advisers and UBS "on a possible bid for powerhouse sports agency IMG Worldwide," according to sources cited by Rachel Abrams of VARIETY. Private equity firm Forstmann Little, which "started prepping" IMG for a sale last year, has "strong ties with Goldman Sachs, with whom it has been holding discussions for several months." Forstmann also has "been in discussions with one other investment bank about the sale." LionTree, launched in July by former UBS Americas Head Aryeh Bourkoff, and UBS "advise CAA on acquisition opportunities in general." An IMG deal would be "the largest acquisition in CAA’s 38-year history." CAA already is "one of the biggest agencies in the sports world, and had been eyed as a likely contender since rumblings of an IMG sale first surfaced." There has been "speculation that CAA’s private equity backer TPG would pursue an acquisition of IMG as part of a strategy to eventually spur a public offering for the agency." A pair-up with IMG "could help CAA reach a scale that investors would find attractive for an IPO." But sources warn that talks of an IPO "remain highly speculative." Sources said that CAA sees IMG’s "heft in college sports and international event production as a natural fit with its roster of athlete clients" (VARIETY.com, 4/10). In N.Y., Claire Atkinson reports the first round of interviews with "as many as 20 banks ended two weeks ago." A second round of pitches "will kick off shortly with the list of contenders narrowed to about five." Goldman Sachs "appears to have the inside track," while others "vying for the assignment" include JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Raine Group and LionTree (N.Y. POST, 4/11).