LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The William Morris Agency and Endeavor Talent are sealing the deal and launching William Morris Endeavor Entertainment early next week as the merger deal between the two agencies formally closes.
The launch was marked by a company party on Monday at Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel's Brentwood home, followed by a Tuesday business confab at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, Variety said, with staffers from WMA's regional offices in London, Nashville, Miami Beach and Shanghai were flown in for the meetup. The Los Angeles staff of both firms should be operating fully from the WMA headquarters by the end of the year.
Both agencies have also gone through a round of layoffs as they reduce overlapping staffers ahead of the merger. WMA has thus far, borne the brunt of this and has shed as much as 15% of its support staff and agents. Included in this number were a number of high-profile departures, including WMA head Jim Wiatt (although Wiatt will retain an office at the firm until January, Variety reported.)
Still to come are the expected cuts of large numbers of clients from both firms as they try to streamline their roster post-merger. Again, most observers expect that William Morris, which carries the largest client list of the two agencies, will suffer the deepest cuts.
Uncertainty also exists about WMA's sports division after New York-based agent Lon Joson (who repped Magic Johnson and A-Rod) was released last week, Variety said. Previously, the division had been championed by Dave Wirtschafter but may have less of a priority in the post-merger landscape.
The Corporate marketing and consulting divisions also have significant overlap between the two companies and both boast a number of major corporate clients – how the two divisions will integrate appears to still be an open question.
Other hurdles are less easy to define. The integration of the corporate culture of two firms, formerly rivals, and both with a very different approach to conducting business, may prove to be the greatest challenge posed by the merger. Endeavor's strengths have been emphasized by their tight-knit, aggressive and agile approach to business which many at Endeavor consider to be the key to their success. The attempt to infuse this ethos into the much larger, more traditional and stratified WMA, will be a key task for the Endeavor team.