BWCS Purchase Rocks Business

Jul 31, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Talent agency International Creative Management’s announcement last week that it is acquiring the Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency served as a seismic shift in the TV business, with two major players from the agency world mirroring the consolidation that has occurred for the past several years in the production, distribution and station sectors.

The acquisition comes nine months after ICM completed a recapitalization to pursue plans for expansion with financial assistance from Rizvi Traverse Management and Merrill Lynch’s Asset Based Finance Group. In January, ICM fended off rumors it was buying the Endeavor Agency.

BWCS’s strength lies in the series television business. Its clients include veteran comedy director James Burrows (“Cheers,” “Friends,” “Will & Grace,” “The Class”) and writers Shonda Rhimes (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Chuck Lorre (“Two and a Half Men”) and Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith (“Big Day,” `”Til Death”).

“The world’s changing,” said Chris Silbermann, a managing partner at BWCS who is becoming a co-president of ICM. “We feel like right now you see the entertainment industry homogenized around five or six huge companies. We want more leverage in dealing with those companies.”

BWCS could have continued to exist on its own, Mr. Silbermann told TelevisionWeek in an interview last Thursday, but the move better positions both companies concerned in a future where Internet entities like Google and YouTube may be as important to agencies as Warner Bros. and News Corp.

“That is going to be a digital earthquake,” he said. “We want to be as strong, vibrant and diversified as possible to attack these changes.”

Terms of the acquisition were not made public, but it is safe to say Mr. Silbermann and his partners were well compensated by the deal. Industry estimates and reports pegged the deal as being worth around $70 million.

Despite that, former BWCS partners are just as engaged in the agenting business as they were before the acquisition, Mr. Silbermann said.

“This is all about the future,” he said. “It isn’t just, here’s your payday and phone it in for couple years.”

The deal itself “took months,” Mr. Silbermann said, but “the process took years” for BWCS to put itself in a place to be bought.

“We’re always thinking about how we can evolve the agency and do better, and that’s what this is part of,” he said. “This was an opportunity we thought hard and long about and was just too good not to pass up.”