October 26, 2019 / 9:43 AM / 22 days ago

French Banijay's Endemol takeover creates global TV production powerhouse

PARIS (Reuters) - French media firm Banijay will pay about 2 billion euros for Endemol Shine, the production house behind global television hits such as “The Voice” and “Black Mirror”, creating a new leader in reality TV, game shows and TV series, sources said.

Banijay said in a statement it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of Endemol Shine. It gave no financial details, but two sources familiar with the situation said the transaction was worth about 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion).

One of the sources said the new firm may launch an IPO from 2023 in order to benefit from the growing global appetite for content from platforms such as Netflix (NFLX.O).

Banijay said total pro-forma 2019 revenue of the combined group will be about 3 billion euros and that upon completion of the acquisition, Banijay will own almost 200 production companies in 23 countries and territories.

Its combined catalog will include game shows and reality TV formats such as “Big Brother”, “MasterChef”, “Survivor” and “Wife Swap” as well as singing contest “The Voice”, and critically acclaimed series such as technology dystopia “Black Mirror” and post-World War One gangster drama “Peaky Blinders”.

In France, Banijay produces adventure game shows “Fort Boyard” and “Koh Lanta” as well as talk shows presented by Nagui and Cyril Hanouna.

The deal ends a bumpy, months-long race to find a buyer for the Netherlands-based Endemol Shine Group, which is co-owned by The Walt Disney Company (DIS.N) and private equity group Apollo Global Management, Inc. (APO.N).

Endemol Shine was put up for sale in July 2018 with a price tag of 2.5-3 billion euros ($2.8-$3.3 billion). It drew interest from several bidders at the time though the pool of suitors eventually shrank, with European broadcaster RTL Group (RRTL.DE) walking away in August 2018.

The acquisition will be financed through a Banijay capital increase and the refinancing of Banijay and Endemol’s existing debt, supported by Deutsche Bank, Natixis and Société Générale. One source said Banijay could issue 300-400 million euros of new equity.

Post-closing, the combined group will be held by LDH (67.1%) and French media conglomerate Vivendi (VIV.PA) (32.9%).

LDH is a holding company controlled by Financière LOV (52%), the investment arm of Banijay founder Stephane Courbit, who headed Endemol France from 2001 to 2007 before launching his own firm. Current Banijay CEO formerly ran Endemol’s Italian unit.

Other LDH shareholders are Italian group De Agostini with 36% of the capital, and Fimalac, the investment company of French investor Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, which will own 12% of the capital.

The deal is conditional on approval by antitrust authorities.

($1 = 0.9027 euros)

Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Alison Williams, Frances Kerry and Christina Fincher

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