Australia’s Network Ten has divested its major Melbourne-based studio center, selling it to Television & Media Services’ (TMS) indie production unit, Global Television.

The no-cash transaction involved the exchange of just over $A3.6 million ($2.7 million) worth of shares and a promise of $A750,00 ($563,000) worth of shares each year thereafter (if Ten meets production quotas with TMS). That would give Ten an instant 10% shareholding in TMS, rising to 20% if all shares are finally issued, plus a seat on the TMS board.

TMS gets a five-year lease of the Melbourne facility’s six studios and the broadcasting fleet now operated by Ten (excluding news services). TMS has a further five-year lease option and an option to buy the studio.

Global now finds itself the largest independent-facilities provider by far with 10 studios, four of them in Sydney. It is likely to pick up the bulk of the Network’s non-news production.

The deal includes a 10-year production contract, with Ten guaranteeing an undisclosed minimum level of expenditure for TMS/Global. In essence, Global will have a “first look” status for all Ten productions, excluding news and current affairs, which remain in-house.

For Ten, the deal allows the broadcaster to divest itself of hardware. Insiders told Variety much of the 27-acre, six-studio complex had been idle, apart from the filming of the soap opera “Neighbours,” which Global inherits.

TMS is the parent of a post-production and cinema advertising empire, including Global and Videolab.

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