Luke Johnson backs rebranded Diane Banks Associates

News - Publishing Thursday, 31 May 2018

Literary agency renamed as Northbank Talent Management, backed and chaired by serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson

The move marks the latest venture for Johnson, former chair of Channel 4 and the Royal Society of the Arts, a non-executive director of Phaidon Press, and a key figure during the end-game of Borders in the UK. He also has a weekly column of business advice in The Sunday Times.

Currently Johnson's arts interests include chair of the Almeida Theatre, chair and co-owner of Assembly Festival, the biggest venue operator at the Edinburgh fringe festival, and director of two theatre production partnerships.

Diane Banks (pictured) said: "When I pitched the idea to Luke last year, he immediately understood the vision of building a full-service agency to provide a 360 degree service to clients in a fast-moving world. I have long admired Luke as an inspirational business leader, and his extensive experience in the media and arts combined with Northbank’s dream team of agents places us firmly on the map as a new force in the agenting world. We can’t wait to get to work."

Johnson said: "I think there is room for a new creative talent agency in London. Diane’s venture will give equal weighting to books, broadcast, brand licensing and public speaking, and Northbank’s boutique size means that clients’ individual interests will be at the heart of everything it does. I look forward to supporting her enterprise with its ambitious plans in the years ahead."

Banks is ceo of Northbank, with Martin Redfern, former editorial director at HarperCollins, as executive director and Alex Hickman, founder and formerly ceo of Chartwell Speakers Bureau (exited 2016) as non-executive director.

Northbank launches as a full-service talent management company. On the books side, Kate Burke covers fiction, Chloe Seager children’s, young adult and fantasy, and Martin Redfern non-fiction. Broadcast and brand licensing is headed up by former PFD agent James Carroll, and 'there are innovative plans for the speaking side of the business under the guidance of Alex Hickman' according to a statement from Northbank.

At launch, the agency’s clients include Sir Anthony Seldon, journalist Camilla Cavendish, DCMS select committee chair Damian Collins, MTV, radio and podcast presenters James Barr and Dan Hudson, explorer Reza Pakravan, CEBR economist Douglas McWilliams, Bake Off's Benjamina Ebuehi, parenting blogger Vicki Psarias, nutritionist Pixie Turner, CERN’s Jon Butterworth, BBC2’s Employable Me psychologist Nancy Doyle, Sunday Times bestselling novelist Katerina Diamond, RNA award-winning novelist Dani Atkins, thriller debut writer Will Dean, bestselling saga authors Daisy Styles and Kate Thompson, and children’s debut Anna Fargher.

According to the launch statement: 'In the past three months, the agency has achieved substantial five- and six-figure fiction deals, three book-to-screen options, a stage development with the RSC and Barbican, TV talent on major channels in the UK and US, and has made significant signings in its fast-growing children’s list. Northbank is actively seeking new clients.'

Johnson, son of historian and journalist Paul Johnson, first became a figure in the book trade when his Risk Capital Partners controlled Borders in the UK from 2007 to 2009, before selling the retailer via an mbo to chief exec Philip Downer (backed by Valco Capital Partners), which soon after went into administration.

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