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ICM Artists Is Sold by Parent Company

November 3, 2006 | By Susan Elliott
MusicalAmerica.com
Los Angeles-based entertainment and literary talent agency International Creative Management has sold its classical music and performing arts subsidiary, ICM Artists. In what is essentially a management buyout, a group of eight ICMA employees has joined with Newsweb Artists, LLC, a holding subsidiary of the Chicago-based Newsweb Corporation, which is majority stakeholder. The newly formed company will remain known as ICM Artists temporarily, until a new name is decided upon.

“Two things are clear,” joked ICMA President and CEO David Foster, who led the buyout and will hold the same titles in the new entity, “it will not be an acronym – we think there are enough of those – and it will not have Foster in the title.”

ICM has been looking to sell ICMA for about the last year, since it recapitlized to purchase the Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann talent agency. Richard B. Levy, General Counsel for ICM, explained that the firm had narrowed its focus to film, television, publishing and popular music. “Selling ICMA is consistent with the progression of our strategic plan,” he said in a statement.

A deal last summer, whereby IMG Artists would have bought ICMA, fell through when ICMA reportedly received “a better offer.” Perhaps this was it.

Byron Gustafson is to be the executive vice president and managing partner of the new firm, as he is of ICM Artists. It was Gustafson who first connected with Newsweb Founder and Chairman, Fred Eychaner, a well-known and hugely successful fund raiser for the Democratic Party and a longtime supporter of the arts in Chicago, especially of the Joffrey Ballet (not on the current ICMA roster).

Newsweb is a privately held corporation that specializes in commercial printing and owns a broad range of foreign and alternative newspapers, such as The Chicago Reader and The Daily Northwestern, out of the university of the same name. Other holdings include real estate and a number of radio and television stations. As majority stockholder in the new artist management company, it will hold two board positions in senior staff members David Horwich and company President Charles Gross; the third trustee is David Foster.

Foster explained that ICM Artists’ roster would not be affected by the move, nor would staff size, aside from the addition of previously shared corporate services such as human resources, technology support and accounting.

“One thing we really want to do is stay the same size,” he said. “This new arrangement will give us a lot more flexibility – our new owners are very sympathetic to what we do.” Though he would not be specific, he did say he was looking forward to taking on some new and different kinds of projects.

ICM Artists was formed in 1976; Sheldon Gold served as president until 1985, at which point Lee Lamont assumed the helm. Foster came to ICM Artists in 1995, first as COO and later, in the fall, as CEO, succeeding Lamont. Prior to that he served for 22 years at CAMI and, before that, the New Orleans Philharmonic.

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