ICM’s move to buy Select Sports comes nine months after it acquired the largest soccer agency in the world, Stellar Group, with some 800 clients, most of them related to soccer. At the time ICM Partners leaders vowed to pursue bolt-on agency acquisitions that bring distinct skill sets and operate under the ICM Stellar Sports banner.
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Financial details of the transaction with Select Sports were not disclosed. A source confirmed that the deal is a complete buyout with money changing hands and Select Sports becoming wholly owned by ICM Stellar Sports. The agreement calls for Erik Burkhardt and Jeff Nalley, Select Sports co-heads and owners, to become co-presidents of the ICM Stellar Sports’ NFL representation division. Reggie Johnson, an NFL agent who joined ICM Partners in 2017, will now work with Burkhardt and Nalley on gridiron representation.
ICM Partners managing director Ted Chervin has steered the agency’s expansion into sports, which is designed to diversify the company’s base beyond entertainment and also to capitalize on the growing fortunes of athletes as influencers, advocates, content producers and curators. Jonathan Barnett, previous chair of Stellar Group, serves as executive chairman of ICM Stellar Sports, with Chervin as chairman.
“This is a big step forward for us. It was important to us to augment what we were already doing with Reggie Johnson,” Chervin told Variety. “When we acquired Stellar, we never thought that was the end. This is a big statement demonstrating our seriousness about sports.”
Formed in 2000, Select Sports came on ICM’s radar as the latter hunted for potential acquisition targets that could put them in business overnight in the most popular professional sport in the U.S. Select Sports, meanwhile, was looking for an agency partner to help its undisclosed number of NFL clients — athletes, coaches and general managers — explore an array of media opportunities available to sports personalities off the playing field.
Select Sports also expands ICM’s reach with its presence in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Nashville in addition to Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. The agency has represented more than 35 first-round NFL draft picks in its history, alongside such notable NFL talent as Kyler Murray, Andy Dalton, Taysom Hill, Bradley Chubb, Colin Kaepernick, Marcus Maye, Irv Smith Jr., Frank Clark, Cody Whitehair, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
“Modern NFL players, coaches, and executives are CEOs of their own brands with evolving off field interests which need and deserve the firepower of a major full-service and international agency to maximize all the amazing opportunities that the marketplace now presents to them,” said Nalley and Burkhardt in a joint statement. “With ICM, we have an extraordinary partner to grow our clients’ brands and professional goals. We are excited about what this deal means for our clients and to help lead ICM’s rapid growth across all sports and entertainment platforms.”
Barnett reinforced ICM’s drive to grow in the sports arena, as its larger rivals CAA and WME have done over the past 15 years.
“This is our first major acquisition under the ICM Stellar Sports banner, with more to come,” he said. “This is one of the big reasons we aligned with ICM in the first place, to make bold acquisitions with the goal of becoming the world’s #1 sports agency, not just in football/soccer which we are, but across all sports, while offering a full array of services for what the modern athlete requires and deserves.”
(Pictured: Reggie Johnson, Erik Burkhardt and Jeff Nalley)
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