Ford Models

Ford Models is being absorbed by its Brazilian counterpart after struggling with leadership for the last year.

The 75-year-old modeling agency founded in New York by Eileen and Jerry Ford has been acquired by Ford Models Brasil and its owner and chief executive officer Decio Restelli Ribeiro. He will run the combined company, which has U.S. operations headquartered in New York, but also a main office in Los Angeles. Other offices are in Paris and Chicago.

“Our collective expertise and experience will enable us to better serve our clients and strengthen Ford Models’ position in the global talent management industry,” Ribeiro wrote in a statement.

He also cited the coronavirus pandemic, which has brought most agency work to a complete halt, saying it has “created a paradigm shift in the acceleration of digital transformation.”

“Under a global unified talent management platform, with many strategic initiatives under way, I am confident our future is bright,” the new owner added.

While Ford Models has continued to have a roster of models that get campaign and runway work, the agency is long past its Eighties heyday when it discovered and represented supermodels like Christie Brinkley, Janice Dickinson and Naomi Campbell, among many others. In recent years it has also struggled with leadership, having a string of ceos, and is one of the few agencies that has not branched out into representation of online influencers. It’s downsized significantly in recent years, going from more than a dozen offices around the world to the current four.

Former ceo Nancy Chen left the agency early last year for reasons unknown after about three years with the agency. She was set to be replaced by Nathan Coyle, who had a tumultuous stint as ceo of Pride Media, operator of publications Out and The Advocate, which have struggled under new ownership. But Coyle ultimately did not take on the ceo role, and only stayed on as a consultant for several months.

So, Ribeiro will be Ford’s first leader in over a year. A company representative could not be reached for further questioning and Riberio was not immediately available for comment. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Since the late 2000s, Ford has been controlled by Alt Point Capital, a private equity firm that first invested in the agency in 2007. Before that Ford had been majority controlled by a small sports agency, Magnum Sports and Entertainment, which bought in 2000 a controlling stake in Ford for $50 million, as reported at the time. It seems Magnum is now defunct.

When Alt Point took over in 2007, it essentially bought out Katie Ford, who had run the company her parents founded since 1995.

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