Holland’s John de Mol and Joop van den Ende, two of Europe’s leading independent producers, confirmed Wednesday that they will merge their entertainment businesses in January to form a new international company called Endemol Entertainment.Active in TV production, theater and special events, the new company will have an estimated annual revenue for 1994 in excess of $ 225 million. Van den Ende estimated, “Together, if our shows are successful, we could boost our collective turnover to a billion guilders ($ 526 million) a year within five years.” With 500 full-time staff and more than 1,000 freelance personnel domestically and internationally, Endemol will outstrip German and British rivals to become Europe’s largest indie TV production operation. With van den Ende’s JE Entertainment producing 1,500 hours of gameshows, soaps and drama annually and De Mol around 1,000, the Dutch firms already stand among Europe’s leaders. Endemol will have Holland offices in Aalsmeer, Hilversum and Scheveningen, and others in Luxembourg, London and New York. New subsidiaries are planned for the U.K., Spain, Belgium and Scandinavia. The merger has been the subject of secret talks for a year. De Mol said, “It is a merger out of strength” intended to fully exploit both firms’ foreign potential by “combining know-how, experience and creativity.” Both firms have a range of customers around the world with strongholds in Germany, Scandinavia and the U.K. In these countries they would continue to produce shows and trade in program rights and formats, though now on an integrated basis. Spain, South America strong In the future, there will be an added emphasis on Spain and in South America, which van den Ende said “had huge potential for our type of programming.” More than 50% of Endemol’s projected revenue for 1994 will be generated from international activities. With respect to expansion, de Mol noted the promise of the growing number of commercial TV channels in Europe. “The broadcasters have a need for original, locally produced programs for a broad audience. Over the past five years, the number of local television stations in Western Europe has increased from 98 to 153.” Both de Mol and van den Ende denied speculation that Endemol was interested in investing in broadcasting or broadening current activities into feature and documentary acquisition and distribution. “We are primarily program-makers,” said de Mol. “We have no intention of being a sales company, nor of buying film catalogs.” Domestically, where both companies provide a range of shows for both the Dutch pubcasters and commercial RTL stations, de Mol and van den Ende will continue to operate independently. Initially, de Mol and van den Ende each will hold 45% of Endemol, with investment group Alpinvest holding 5% and private investor Willem Van Kooten 5%. After two years the firm may become listed, though de Mol and van den Ende said going public “is not a priority.” Efficient entities De Mol and van den Ende, both products of the Dutch pubcasting system, have become renowned for their efficient and flexible production techniques and competitive prices. During the past five years, thanks to spiraling trade across the Benelux, Germany and Scandinavia, both firms have more than tripled in size. De Mol’s revenues grew in this period from $ 18 million to $ 74 million, Van den Ende’s from $ 33 million to $ 102 million. Among the most successful shows exploited internationally by both companies are “The Honeymoon Quiz,””All You Need Is Love,””Will They or Won’t They?,””The Soundmix Show” and “Love Letters.” Van den Ende also has established himself as Holland’s biggest theater producer and recently staged his first Broadway production, “Cyrano: The Musical ,” which opened Nov. 21 to mixed reviews.
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