Major sports agents prepare to merge

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The Independent Online

Jerome Anderson, the football agent who boasts Arsenal stars Tony Adams and Thierry Henry and TV presenter Ian Wright among his properties, is close to a deal to merge his business with that of Lennox Lewis's agent, Adrian Ogun.

The deal, which could be announced this week, is expected to lead to a flotation of the merged group on the Alternative Investment Market.

Mr Anderson has been keen to expand into other sports to develop his fast-growing business. If he floats he will follow CSS Stellar, agents to the England football team and "Weakest Link" presenter Anne Robinson, Proactive, whose client list includes Andy Cole, Peter Schmeichel and Kevin Campbell, and First Artist, which represents other Arsenal stars Lee Dixon and Kanu, in going to the City to raise funds for their operations.

Analysts have joked that it is a case of "if you don't make money out of the gamekeepers, try the poachers". The market has been willing to throw money at the agents while quoted football clubs, such as Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Charlton Athletic, have failed to raise a smile from the investment community.

Mr Anderson was been keen to cash in on the boom and use the money to spread his portfolio of sports and celebrity representation. After football, boxing, motor racing, tennis and golf are the most lucrative areas for sports representation.

"The amount of money involved in deals is obviously increasing," he said.

By linking with Mr Ogun's Cloudmanor, Mr Anderson has moved into one of the most attractive other sports, and he is believed to be close to a deal to expand into another sport.

Mr Ogun, whose full name is Adeniran Ogunmuyiwa, has built up a strong franchise in boxing despite the shock defeat of his star client, Lennox Lewis, by Hasim Rahman in the world heavyweight title fight in South Africa in April.

The defeat has led for calls for the British boxer to retire but Mr Ogun has filed a $50m (£37m) legal action on Lennox Lewis' behalf to try to force a rematch.