French-based entertainment giant Banijay’s takeover of the Endemol Shine Group (ESG) will create the world’s biggest independent production and distribution company with a catalogue of nearly 100,000 hours.
ESG’s owners The Walt Disney Company, which picked up its stake as part of its buy-out of 21st Century Fox assets last year, and Apollo Global Management have agreed to sell the firm for a reported $US2.2 billion.
ESG consists of 120 production companies with an estimated 66,000 hours of scripted and non-scripted programming and more than 4,300 registered formats including Black Mirror, Versailles, The Millennium Trilogy, Peaky Blinders, Temptation Island and The Island.
In Australia, the deal unites Banijay’s Screentime, the maker of the Nine Network’s upcoming crime drama Informer 3838 , Seven’s SAS: Who Dares Wins and 10’s Playing for Keeps, Trial By Kyle and Hughesy We Have a Problem, with Endemol Shine Australia, home to MasterChef Australia, Australian Ninja Warrior, Married at First Sight, LEGO Masters, Gogglebox, Australian Survivor and Big Brother.
It is unclear what the acquisition, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval, will mean for the Australian management led by Screentime’s executive chairman/ co-founder Bob Campbell and CEO Rory Callaghan and ESA’s co-CEO’s Mark and Carl Fennessy.
The merged group in Oz is likely to have increased bargaining power in its negotiations with networks. Worldwide, the staffs of both companies face an uncertain future pending the completion of the takeover and finalizing the new operating structure which will bring together almost 200 production companies in 23 territories. Total revenue of the combined group is estimated at $US3.6 billion this year.
Earlier this month Cathy Payne announced she is stepping down as CEO of Endemol Shine International next year after 30 years with the group.
Marco Bassetti, Banijay CEO, a former CEO of ESG, said: “Endemol Shine brings an incredible array of industry-leading talent, globally renowned brands and high-quality creative content. Combining the resources of these two companies will instantly strengthen our position in the global market, and our capabilities across genres will further define us as a go-to provider of first class IP worldwide.”
Sophie Turner Laing, ESG CEO, added: “At Endemol Shine, we have continually inspired and entertained audiences around the world, a testament to every single person across the group. This deal takes us into a whole new and exciting chapter and into a new enhanced global content house with many opportunities ahead.”
The deal concludes a protracted 18-month process during which there were multiple interested buyers including All3Media and UK broadcaster ITV, RTL’s Fremantle, US cable giant Liberty and Hollywood talent agency Endeavour. All withdrew due to ESG’s suggested price tag and debt load.