The buyout plan - more like a revolt - had been in the works since last year when a group of senior agents demanded to have more of a say in how the business was run. The takeover pushes aside longtime Chairman and CEO Jeff Berg, along with private equity firm Rizvi Traverse Management, which had acquired controlling interest in ICM some years back. As part of the deal, 29 agents are now partners of the agency. Berg says he's sticking around. From the LAT:
Michigan-based Rizvi Traverse Management had acquired controlling interest in ICM in 2005 for more than $75 million. A year later, the firm invested an additional $70 million for ICM to acquire the TV agency powerhouse Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann. The move bolstered ICM's financial position because of Broder Webb's representation of high-earning TV producers, including Chuck Lorre, who created "Two and a Half Men" and "Big Bang Theory" as well as Christopher Lloyd, co-creator of"Modern Family," and Vince Gilligan, the creator of"Breaking Bad." However, the merger of the two corporate cultures of Broder Webb and ICM proved bumpy. And, despite an improved balance sheet and increased power in the TV business, the agency continued to lose status in the prestige-conscious film industry. In addition, the management structure became an obstacle in allowing the agency to recruit and retain top agents.
ICM is eschewing titles and a hierarchical leadership structure in favor of a meritocracy among the partners. The hope is to expand the partner ranks as worthy people become available. But industry observers said the agency will still face an uphill climb in competing with CAA, WME, UTA and others in attracting top talent. The agency endured its share of client and agent defections during the past year amid reports of strife between Berg and former prexy Chris Silbermann, who led the arduous buyout process.