Mediapro, Arbol prep marriage

Union will create Spain's biggest indie film, TV company

MADRID — The scene is set for a merger of production and facilities house Mediapro with the Arbol Group, the biggest TV fiction producer in the Spanish-speaking world, to create Spain’s biggest independent film and TV company.

On Tuesday Arbol bought back a 24% stake held by media conglom Vocento, paving the way for the long-anticipated union.

Through its Madrid-based production house Globomedia, the Arbol Group produces hit series “The Serranos,” “7 Lives” and “Aida.”

Mediapro has a large sports-rights management biz, extensive post-production assets and a burgeoning line in pic production, including a co-production credit on the Almodovar brothers’ “The Secret Life of Words,” with Tim Robbins and Sarah Polley.

Arbol and Mediapro are large fishes in Spain’s small pond. Arbol posted E105.2 million ($127.6 million) in revenue in 2004, Mediapro $236.5 million.

Merged they’ll have more muscle for international expansion. Arbol already owns Argentinian production company Promofilm, which has offices in L.A., Miami, Mexico and Brazil. Mediapro aims to set up a subsid in Shanghai.

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