Dentsu Agrees To Buy One-Third Stake In Sports Agency Athletes First

Dentsu has agreed to acquire a one-third stake in Laguna Hills, CA-based sports agency Athletes First for $16.5 million.

The interest in the company -- which represents numerous pro athletes in a variety of sports, along with coaches, broadcasters and other sports-related talent -- will be managed through the company’s Dentsu Sports arm. 

The move is Dentsu’s latest investment in sports-related marketing firms in the U.S. It also controls both MKTG and Team Epic (via Dentsu Aegis Network), which specialize in sports sponsorships and event marketing for clients including Nike, IBM, Fedex.

Globally, Dentsu is active in sports marketing, acquiring rights to major events such as the Olympics for resale to broadcasters in various regions where its clients have an interest in brand advertising. 



Dentsu confirmed the Athletes First deal last week, while Sports Business Journal reported the price and other details earlier this week

The Tokyo-based holding company reported the agency’s annual revenue at approximately $10 million. It also said the firm represents more NFL players than any other privately owned talent agency. Clients include Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, NFL head coach Chip Kelly and ESPN broadcaster Steve Young, among numerous others. 

Athletes First, founded in 2001, will continue to be overseen by CEO David Dunn.

“The Dentsu Group has to date been involved in business with sales of marketing and broadcasting rights for professional sports leagues in the U.S. and the investment in Athletes First will enable it to expand its array of services to its client base in terms of sports marketing and related endeavors”  the holding company stated. 

Over time, it added, the firm will help Athletes First expand its offering across the U.S. and internationally.


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