Steve Aoki Talent Agency YMU Sells to Permira Credit in Reportedly $76.2 Million Deal

ymu sale
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ymu sale
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YMU client Steve Aoki. Photo Credit: Collision Conf

YMU, the London-based talent agency behind Simon Cowell, Steve Aoki, and a number of others, has sold for a reported $76.18 million (£60 million).

40-year-old YMU’s reported sale came to light in a piece from Deadline; at the time of this writing, the agency itself, which has industry clients including Take That, Kacy Hill, and Lagos-born Kida Kudz, hadn’t issued a formal release about the ownership pivot. However, CEO Mary Bekhait confirmed and elaborated on the news in a lengthy LinkedIn post.

According to the mentioned report and post, London-headquartered Permira Credit scored the deal for YMU. Founded in 1985, Permira in August of 2023 became YMU’s majority shareholder following a restructuring and layoffs affecting about nine percent of employees, per a separate Deadline breakdown.

That development, which arrived after YMU’s less-than-ideal financial situation entered the media spotlight last summer, ushered in the rollout of a new parent company. Also in August of 2023, an entity called Yokozuna Newco Limited was incorporated with several YMU execs as directors, Companies House filings show.

Building on those points, Permira has now “taken full control” of Yokozuna, per Deadline, with a retooled “management incentive plan” reportedly in place at YMU. Said plan is expected to afford Bekhait and others equity stakes in the operation.

Shifting to the financial specifics of the play, Permira has reportedly converted $41.78 million (£32.9 million) worth of YMU debt into Yokozuna shares, canceled another $20.32 million (£16 million) in debt, and put up a fresh $12.70 million (£10 million) credit line for the agency. Meanwhile, Lloyds Banking Group has fronted a separate $20.32 million (£16 million) debt facility, per the noted outlet.

Bearing in mind this relatively large capital tranche, YMU, which named Twitter/X CEO Linda Yaccarino chair in February of 2023, is said to be exploring buyout opportunities at present. In a joint statement, Permira investment director Samuel Gross (a Kirkland & Ellis vet) and managing director Daniel Hatcher made clear plans to seize “growth opportunities ahead.”

“As longstanding partners with YMU Group,” the two communicated, “our decision to further our investment is rooted in our belief in the group’s unique position and potential. We look forward to a deepened relationship with management and supporting the group in seizing growth opportunities ahead.”

And in her LinkedIn post on the subject, Bekhait spelled out that her business has “been working behind the scenes for the last 6 months on some additions…which will further propel us in our core business areas.” Details are “coming soon,” the 12-year YMU head added, emphasizing for good measure that her company is “on the hunt for acquisitions.”