Deals continue to shrink ownership in Spain

Deals shrink country's TV production hands

SAN SEBASTIAN — Media concentration is becoming this year’s Spanish TV production trend.

During the last two weeks, Dutch TV giant Endemol has raised its stake in its Spanish venture, Gestmusic Endemol, from 60% to 100%, while the co-founders of indie production house Europroducciones agreed to buy out Mexican TV giant Televisa’s 30% share.

Both deals were expected and their effect is the same: TV production in Spain looks set to settle in the hands of six or seven major companies.

But the driving forces behind the two deals vary radically.

Televisa is giving up its production and distribution beachhead in Spain to focus on the more lucrative U.S.

By Mexican standards, the company enjoys prestige credit facility ratings. Yet by a U.S. benchmark, Televisa is still undervalued despite being a key player in North America’s fastest emerging media market. Better to raise its U.S. profile than continue plunging into Europe.

Co-founders Arturo Vega and Francesco Boserman will exercise an option to raise their joint participation in Europroducciones to gain majority control.

Correo chips in

Their minority partner is Spanish publishing house Prensa Espanola, which merged last year with Spain’s Correo Group, a blue chip media and newspaper conglom.

“We would be willing to sell Televisa’s 30%, but only to a strategic partner which brings more than money to the table,” Vega tells Variety.

Boserman and Vega are sitting pretty: They have good across-the-board relations with Spanish broadcasters, a new Spanish telenovela (“Luna negra”) due to air later this year and femme magazine “Dia a Dia” dominating morning skeds.

In taking ownership of Gestmusic Endemol, Endemol is attempting to lock up talent. Unlike many other Endemol overseas ops, Gestmusic Endemol’s core business is not just the distribution of Dutch-originated formats but the creation of its own.

Managing directors Toni Cruz and Joseph Maria Mainat have agreed to stay on at Gestmusic Endemol for at least four years.

The duo are responsible for one of the most successful formats to come out of the Endemol stable after “Big Brother,” the reality pop star show “Operacion Triunfo.” It holds the record for Spain’s biggest audience since the launch of private TV in 1990, and it has been exported to Brazil, Mexico, Italy and the U.K.

In fact, “Triunfo” might just be the answer to the biggest question hanging over Endemol: What comes after “Big Brother”?

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