United Talent Agency Partners With Rich Paul To Create Sports Division
United Talent Agency has joined with NBA agent Rich Paul to "create a sports division for the entertainment company," naming Paul Head of UTA Sports, according to Marc Stein of the N.Y. TIMES. The alliance calls for Paul's Klutch Sports Group, which represents LeBron James, to "operate as United Talent’s sports division while retaining its own branding." Neither side discussed the amount of the stake, but Paul said that "'nothing changes' in terms of how Klutch’s basketball business operates and that the investment will enable him 'to go out and further build Klutch.'" UTA "represents several high-profile actors," as well companies such as Coca-Cola, GM and Delta. The firm, which has "restricted itself to off-the-field sports business until now, said it needs Paul’s muscle as it moves into direct competition with the established sports divisions at UTA’s primary rivals" in Hollywood: CAA and WME. The partnership also gives Paul an "entree to Hollywood as his NBA profile is expanding." WME also "expressed interest in a partnership" with Paul. Klutch’s deal with UTA was "initiated by the investment adviser Paul Wachter, who helped broker" Fenway Sports Group’s '02 purchase of Liverpool, as well as James’s lifetime deal with Nike (N.Y. TIMES, 7/17).
HERE TO STAY: THE ATHLETIC’s Joe Vardon notes Paul has been "more than just LeBron's agent for quite some time,” and this move “removes all doubt.” Paul said, “This puts me in direct competition with the largest agencies in the world. There is nothing we cannot do for an athlete. If a guy wants to write a book, great. If he wants to be a ‘Fortnite’ champion, great. If he wants to act, great. He wants to buy a surfboard company? Fantastic. There is nothing we cannot do for the modern athlete.” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said, “What I love about Rich is he’s kept his head down and been working his ass off for quite some time. And what’s important is where we’re going together.” Paul's current NBA clients still will be considered Klutch clients. He added that if and when he “seeks to expand representation into other sports, those clients could roll into Klutch, to the new UTA Sports division, or, potentially, UTA could purchase a smaller firm that already has clients in whichever sport in which Paul is seeking to expand.” All of Paul’s clients, “via Klutch or otherwise, fit under UTA’s umbrella” (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/17).