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Bankers Behind Tiger Woods and Saudi Arabia Ventures Launch New Company



Hollywood powerhouse Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and seasoned deal maker Michael Klein are set to make waves in the financial sector with the establishment of CAA Evolution, a groundbreaking investment bank focused on sports, media, and entertainment deals. The collaboration brings together CAA's merchant bank, Evolution Media Capital, and advisory firm M. Klein & Co., marking a strategic move into the competitive landscape of large-scale media transactions, sports team sales, and capital raises, including initial public offerings.


The joint venture, unveiled to The Wall Street Journal, positions CAA Evolution to vie with prominent specialty banks such as LionTree and the Raine Group, renowned for their expertise in advising on significant sports and media transactions, including the creation of Warner Bros. Discovery and the sale of Chelsea Football Club.


With an anticipated team size of approximately 60 professionals and a presence in key locations like New York, Los Angeles, and London, CAA Evolution is poised for further expansion in the coming months. The union leverages the extensive network of relationships cultivated by Evolution Media Capital since its inception in 2008, operating as a conduit for CAA's vast connections.


Robert Stanley, currently at the helm of Evolution Media Capital, is slated to become the Chief Executive of CAA Evolution. The bank's ambitions extend beyond its existing portfolio, planning to delve into larger deals that were not traditionally within Evolution Media Capital's purview, including team sales for TGL, the golf league backed by sports icons Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.


Michael Klein, the mastermind behind M. Klein & Co., a firm he founded in 2012 after a successful stint as a Citigroup rainmaker, emphasised that CAA Evolution's launch is impeccably timed. The sports ecosystem, he noted, is experiencing substantial growth, fueled in part by the influx of private-equity firms and sovereign-wealth funds into sports investments. Klein, a key player in the ongoing merger discussions between the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf, expressed confidence in the robustness of the sports-related transactions, highlighting their significance in today's corporate landscape.


As talent agencies like CAA navigate challenges in their core business, the move to expand into the financial sector appears strategic. CAA's recent acquisition of rival agency ICM Partners for $750 million and the investment from the family of French billionaire François-Henri Pinault underscore the industry's evolution, signalling a shift toward deeper-pocketed ownership.

Endeavor Group Holdings, CAA's chief rival and parent company of WME and IMG talent agencies, is also exploring strategic opportunities. Silver Lake, the private-equity firm with a majority stake in Endeavor, aims to take the company private, further illustrating the dynamic landscape in which these entertainment giants operate.

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