Peters Fraser & Dunlop (PFD), the leading UK talent agency with clients including Richard Curtis, Ewan McGregor and Kate Winslet, has been bought by UK management and marketing group CSS Stellar.
CSS, which already represents TV personalities such as Michael Parkinson and The Weakest Link's Anne Robinson, is paying an initial $16.8m (£11.9m) for PFD, plus a deferred, performance-related sum of $14.3m (£10.1m). The company, active in the sports and entertainment sectors, is listed on London's Alternative Investment Market.
PFD, a London-based outfit which traces its roots to 1924, aims to launch a development arm as a result of the deal. Anthony Jones, joint chairman of PFD, said this will focus on TV productions, initially at least.
"We didn't have the money to spare before, and maybe we didn't have the will to do it," he said. "But they wanted to get involved in this aspect of the business and it is a useful tool."
PFD executives are to get a share in the company as a result of the deal. The agency, which has clients including Mike Leigh, Alan Bennett, Tom Stoppard, Dawn French and Robert Harris, last year generated a turnover of $9.3m (£6.6m) and adjusted profits before tax of $1.7m (£1.2m).
"PFD is a market leader, with an unrivalled reputation and with a large number of prestigious clients and a skilled and loyal management team," said John Webber, chairman of CSS. "This acquisition will grow substantially the entertainment business within the group and provide an excellent platform from which to expand and create further opportunities'.
The initial payment is though a $7.6m (£5.4m) share issue, $5.6m (£4m) in cash and $3.5m (£2.5m) in loans. The deferred payment is linked to performance over a sixteen month period ending 31st March 2003.
CSS was founded by former staff from sports representation agency International Management Group. Julian Jakobi, chief executive, previously managed the business affairs of the late Formula One champion Ayrton Senna.
"The only question I get from clients is 'how will this affect things''" said Jones. "I say that everything will stay the same and they say that is fine with us."