Carlyle Group LP has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Talent Partners, a behind-the scenes player in advertising that handles tasks ranging from paying actors’ royalties to obtaining filming permits and delivering ads to television stations.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though Carlyle is tapping its growth-equity fund that typically puts between $25 million and $150 million toward deals.
Carlyle is acquiring its stake from ABRY Partners LLC., a Boston private-equity firm that invested in Talent in 1998, and Michael Donovan, an advertising technology executive who will retain a smaller stake in Talent.
In Talent, Carlyle is making a bet on the continued prominence of television advertising.
While Talent works increasingly in online advertising, including making video commercials, the 50-year-old company’s bread and butter is television spots. Its customers include most of the major advertising agencies as well as a host of large companies that run their own ad campaigns.
Television ads are "the only way to reach a mass audience," said Talent Chief Executive
Paul Muratore in an interview, adding that the agency’s clients were all spending money on television.
At about $74 billion, spending on U.S. television advertising was down slightly in 2013 from $74.1 billion the year before, in part due to lighter spending from political campaigns, according to ad-research firm Kantar Media. Still, television accounted for 52.8% of total U.S. advertising spending in 2013, Kantar estimated.
Talent’s roots trace back to a specialty payroll company that catered to actors in commercials. It has since broadened its offerings to essentially "everything that happens behind the camera," Mr. Muratore said. That includes negotiating deals with celebrity endorsers, rounding up extras for film shoots — as well as insuring and paying them — securing filming permits, pre-approving ad story lines with networks and delivering commercials to television stations. It has technology that allows it to monitor tens of thousands of ads nightly to calculate royalty payments for actors and musicians.
With a primary office in New York, Talent also has offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto and London as well as about 35 employees who are embedded with big clients.
Mr. Muratore said "Carlyle’s investment will help the firm expand into international markets as well as corners of the commercial business it’s not already in"