UTA on Wednesday said it has made a significant investment in the powerhouse sports agency Klutch Sports Group, led by its founder and CEO Rich Paul, a move that among other things will create UTA Sports and bring Los Angeles Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis into the agency fold.
As part of the partnership, Klutch will continue to operate under its own brand and Paul will become Head of UTA Sports, focusing on building UTA’s sports business for athletes in all their professional endeavors, on and off the field.
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This comes after UTA had a courtship to acquire Paradigm, which ended when Paradigm chief Sam Gores decided to stay independent. UTA has been raising money to become more aggressive in building inroads to fields like sports and music, which have proved lucrative for rivals like CAA and WME.
“Rich has built Klutch with the vision, values and entrepreneurial spirit that UTA cherishes,” UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said. “By focusing on growing clients’ businesses and putting their interests first, Klutch is built for the modern athlete who wants to thrive at the intersection of sports, media, music, art and culture. We are thrilled to work with Rich and his team to build Klutch and UTA Sports into a global powerhouse.”
Klutch Sports was founded in September 2012 in Cleveland and has emerged as one of the most important agencies in all of sports. Its clients include NBA stars James, Davis, Draymond Green, Ben Simmons and John Wall. In the past two years, Klutch has negotiated almost $1 billion in contracts, while expanding to offices in Cleveland and Los Angeles.
James has already made inroads into the film and TV biz via his SpringHill Entertainment and digital platform Uninterrupted; WME still reps James on those fronts. One of the greatest NBA players of all time, James also getting help on his Lakers thanks to its blockbuster trade for Davis over the summer.
Klutch has differentiated itself in the representation business by continuing to find ways to better serve the players they represent. Main Street Advisors served as Klutch Sport Group’s representative and structured the transaction in collaboration with UTA.
“We started Klutch because we believed there was a different way to represent players,” said Paul. “We understood the world was changing and how athletes required an entirely new perspective from their agents. When I met with Jeremy and the UTA team, it was clear to me they were the perfect partner for Klutch’s next phase of growth. They understand and share our view on the future of sports and recognize how there is an entirely new way to represent elite athletes. The innovation, resources and talent at UTA is going to supercharge everything we can do and together.”
The move now bolsters UTA’s sports business which already includes repping clients from Olympians Shaun White and Tara Lipinski to NFL stars Von Miller and Rob Gronkowski, and former NBA All-Star Chris Webber as they pursue interests and opportunities in film, TV, video games, endorsements and resorts among other avenues.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom Llp served as legal advisors to UTA on the deal. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP advised Klutch.