SBJ/Aug. 25-31, 2014/Labor and Agents

Stealth SME in talks to acquire firms, new president says

Rob Ponger, the new president of sports and entertainment agency Stealth SME, said the firm is in advanced discussions on three acquisitions and that deals may be announced within the next two months.

“I feel really good about closing some of these things in the next 30 days,” Ponger said last week. “Maybe that is too aggressive, but certainly in the next 60 days.”

Ponger declined to name the companies Stealth SME is in talks to acquire but said they are in the talent representation, entertainment, and media and marketing space.

Ponger

A longtime IMG executive, Ponger was hired this month to run Stealth SME, which was launched in March through the rollup of five sports talent representation firms as well as brand activation agency Cenergy. NHL agent Allain Roy, NBA agent Tony Dutt, NBA agent Todd Ramasar, NBA agent Dwon Clifton, and NFL and MLB player agent Alfred “Chip” Sloan all joined Stealth SME when their agencies were acquired. Bill Strickland, who has 30 years of experience as a sports agent, oversees the talent representation division.

Ponger knows Strickland well, as their paths crossed at IMG, where Strickland worked in the late 1990s and where Ponger worked for about 20 years. At IMG, Ponger held a number of executive positions and most recently was senior vice president, strategic planning and financial operations, reporting to former IMG Chief Executive Mike Dolan. Ponger left IMG after it was sold to WME in May.

At Stealth SME, Ponger will report to the agency’s founding partners, Christopher Aden and Dorsey James, and will work out of New York. 

“We are focused on growing by acquisition right now, because that’s the place we’re in, but we certainly plan to grow by organic growth, as well,” Ponger said. “My goal, when we buy all these companies, is to integrate them and get them on the same page, where we all have the same, shared vision.”

> WME ADDS MARSHALL: WME has signed Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall for broadcasting, television and film work, and negotiated Marshall’s recent deal with Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” to work as a studio analyst.

At WME, Marshall will be represented by a team of agents, including Boomer Malkin, Brandt Joel, Brad Slater and Josh Pyatt. He is represented for contract work by MS World founder and NFL agent Kennard McGuire.

> NFL AGENT SWITCHES: Five Star Athlete Management has signed Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Bennie Logan and Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Bobby Rainey. At Five Star, Rainey will be represented by agency president and NFL agent Todd France and by agent Ben Renzin, who was certified by the NFL Players Association last year. Logan will be represented solely by France. Rainey was formerly represented by NFL Advisor. Logan was formerly represented by Pro Source Sports & Entertainment.

> AROUND THE HORN: A number of baseball players have changed representation: MVP Sports has signed Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Paco Rodriguez and Cincinnati Reds pitcher Alfredo Simón for representation. Agency president and MLB agent Danny Lozano will represent the players. Simón was formerly represented by Wasserman Media Group; Rodriguez was formerly represented by BKK Sports. …  MLB player representation firm Praver Shapiro has signed Minnesota Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia. Agency founders and MLB agents Barry Praver and Scott Shapiro will represent him. Arcia was formerly represented by The Legacy Agency. … The Legacy Agency has signed Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Antonio Bastardo. At TLA, Bastardo will be represented by a team of agents led by Greg Genske, TLA Baseball president and MLB agent. Bastardo was formerly represented by Aces Inc.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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