Amid Disagreement Over Future of Agency, Casey Wasserman and Tom Gores Try to Secure Deal for Paradigm's Music Dept.

Casey Wasserman
Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for LA84 Foundation

Casey Wasserman speaks during the 5th Annual LA84 Foundation Summit on Oct. 27, 2016 in Los Angeles.

The future of Paradigm Agency hangs in the balance as negotiations continue between Platinum Equity chairman Tom Gores and sports and entertainment agency boss Casey Wasserman. The two are discussing a possible plan to absorb Paradigm's profitable music division into the Wasserman agency.

A rep for Sam Gores says that the founder is active in the discussions and has not agreed to sell, although a source following the deal tells Billboards that Sam Gores "has no say in a deal or proximity to the discussions."

There's also a debate about much debt Paradigm is carrying — one source told Billboard  that Tom Gores paid down the company's debt with Suntrust Bank, which at one time had reach $300 million. But a source for Sam Gores said the $300 million figure "wasn't even close" to the actual debt number, adding "there is no deal with Wasserman and none is imminent. It is incorrect that Sam Gores has lost controlling interest in Paradigm."

Last night, Sam Gores sent a note to agents at the company insisting "there is no agreement to sell Paradigm, nor is any sale imminent," although a source close to the deal says Sam's ownership has largely been diluted in the bailout by his brother and cannot veto the deal.

As Tom looks to recoup his investment, he's turned to Wasserman, who has been able to ride out the coronavirus pandemic intact and would create a new division at the agency that would include equity for the music agents joining the group.

Wasserman is the chief executive of the Wasserman agency, one of the top sports agencies in the country with clients that include NBA star Russell Westbrook and New York Yankees Giancarlo Stanton. The grandson of Hollywood’s former mega-agent and studio boss Lew Wasserman, the younger Wasserman is also the chair of the LA28 Olympics.

By absorbing Paradigm into his agency, Wasserman would become an overnight powerhouse in music, representing some of its biggest stars including Shawn Mendes, Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Diplo, Major Lazer, Sturgill Simpson and Margot Price.

Over the last two decades, Gores slowly built Paradigm through acquisitions, buying up smaller agencies including Monterey Peninsula Artists, Little Big Man, the Windish Agency and European firm CODA. In the process he racked up hundreds of millions in debt and was forced to make deep cuts in March in response to the shutdown of the concert industry due to COVID-19. One of the senior agents he terminated, Debbee Klein, sued in LA County Superior, claiming Gores owed her $2 million.

Billboard reached out to a rep for Wasserman and was told he had no comment for this story.

Billboard has updated this article to give both sides a balanced voice in the story.

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