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Hollywood Talent Giant Buys Speaking Agency of Obamas, Clintons

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 4 days ago Lucas Shaw
Michelle Obama, Barack Obama are posing for a picture: CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 29: Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle close the Obama Foundation Summit together on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology on October 29, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The Summit is an annual event hosted by the Obama Foundation. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)© Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images North America CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 29: Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle close the Obama Foundation Summit together on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology on October 29, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. The Summit is an annual event hosted by the Obama Foundation. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. is buying Harry Walker Agency, bringing the speaking agency of former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton under the control of the owner of one of Hollywood’s biggest talent representatives.

The deal is Endeavor’s first acquisition since it called off an initial public offering in September. Harry Walker Agency’s President Don Walker and Managing Director Ellen Kazis-Walker will continue in their leadership roles, Endeavor said in a statement Friday, without revealing the financial terms of the transaction.

Hollywood’s top talent agencies have been moving aggressively into the speaking circuit over the past few years, challenging established firms based in New York and Washington, as they sense new opportunities to boost their revenue. Celebrity speakers command hundreds of thousands of dollars per appearance, and can make millions on a prolonged tour.

Both ICM Partners and United Talent Agency acquired speaking agencies in 2017, while Creative Artists Agency handles speaking for stars like Will Smith, Reese Witherspoon and Viola Davis.

Founded in 1946, Harry Walker counts politicians, athletes and executives among its clients. In addition to Obama and Clinton, as well as their wives, Harry Walker books speaking engagements for basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner, and feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

Endeavor’s talent agency WME already operates a speaking business, and those agents and clients will now be folded into Harry Walker. Its heads will report to Ari Greenburg, the chief of WME.

Harry Walker bolsters Endeavor’s representation business, which includes WME, modeling agency IMG and the Wall Group, the manager of stylists and makeup artists.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles at lshaw31@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, Sam Nagarajan, Rachel Chang

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