- Insider’s Banker of the Week series appears in our weekday newsletter, 10 Things on Wall Street.
- This week we’re highlighting Kasper Knokgaard, who just wrapped up an investment for EQT in the entertainment company United Talent Agency.
- It’s the second investment that Knokgaard has led in the film-making industry, following EQT’s acquisition of Cast & Crew.
Kasper Knokgaard has done due diligence on the entertainment industry for years. In 2018, private-equity firm EQT, where Knokgaard is a partner, acquired Cast & Crew, a payroll provider for film and television productions.
Knokgaard said the purchase of Cast & Crew gave EQT insight into what content, from television shows to blockbuster films, was being made, and to an extent, provided a light into the private-equity firm’s next investment in the entertainment industry. Last month, EQT bought Investcorp’s stake in United Talent Agency, the Hollywood giant that represents A-listers like Angelina Jolie and Benedict Cumberbatch.
“The benefit of having Cast & Crew, we can see what they are producing. These big movies don’t just happen overnight,” Knokgaard, an EQT partner and its global head of services sector team, told Insider. “So we had a strong conviction in the market growth.”
Indeed, the entertainment industry has shifted remarkably since the pandemic led folks to consume television and film from their homes, and through numerous streaming services led by upstarts like Netflix, and heavily-bankrolled entities like Disney and Amazon.
Through exposure to Cast & Crew — and the inside track on productions and spend — Knokgaard was convinced talent was the linchpin these studios would tussle over to ensure they produced the best content. Consumers’ insatiable appetite for fresh content, from professional sports to reality television, was further reason to justify an investment in UTA.
“There’s more options, more offers for competing eyeballs, and we have more ways to consume entertainment, whether it’s the television, mobile phone, or iPad,” Knokgaard said. “Now, with so much different content to be produced, it means you need the talent to fill all this.”
The globalization of the entertainment space was another factor in Knokgaard’s desire for UTA. Netflix found success with Israeli shows like “Fauda” and the South Korean hit “Squid Game,” and EQT sees an opportunity for UTA to tap into a global pool of acting talent.
“Once you have the talent, you need to navigate this global system. That’s why we needed a big agency that has the scale and networks and the power,” he said.
EQT — which has approximately $79 billion in assets under management — invested in UTA through its EQT X fund. It is now the talent agency’s largest outside shareholder.
Jeremy Zimmer co-founded UTA in 1991 and remains chief executive of the company to this day.
Knokgaard joined EQT in 2007 and completed stints in its Copenhagen, New York, and Munich offices.
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