Credit Suisse pondering production company bid

Suitors include All3Media, FremantleMedia, Endemol

LONDON — Investment bank Credit Suisse has emerged as the latest potential bidder for U.K. “super-indie” All3Media, joining a list of suitors that includes production giants FremantleMedia and Endemol.

According to the Times, Credit Suisse’s private equity arm DLJ Merchant Banking Partners is considering a £300 million ($562 million) offer for the production company, which is backed by venture capital group Bridgepoint Capital.

In April, the company appointed UBS to advise on its strategic options, including a potential listing on the London Stock Exchange or a trade sale. A source at Bridgepoint confirmed this evaluation process is still ongoing.

DLJ’s bid reportedly is led by Tim Schoonmaker, former CEO of Emap Radio, and Nigel Walmsley, former chairman of Carlton Media, both of whom joined the private equity company in April to originate media-related investments in the U.K. and Europe.

Founded by Steve Morrison, Jules Burns and David Liddiment in 2003 through the acquisition of Chrysalis TV, All3Media has been on something of a buying spree in recent years, snapping up production companies Mersey, Lion and Company. Last year it generated turnover of $294 million, making it the U.K.’s largest independent producer.

Other trade buyers that reportedly have been looking at the company include formats giant Endemol, which floated on the Dutch stock exchange last year. Chief operating officer Tom Barnicoat apparently has made no secret of his interest in All3Media, but observers wonder how well the current management team would fit in at Endemol.

Fremantle, meanwhile, is seen as an unlikely bidder because of parent company RTL’s ownership of U.K. commercial web Five. A takeover of All3Media would see the producer lose its independent status, which would be a considerable disadvantage.

Another option would be to follow in the footsteps of fellow producers Shed and RDF and float on London’s Alternative Investment Market. Both companies completed successful IPOs last year, but their share prices were hit last month when a report from Numis Securities claimed they were overvalued.

An All3Media rep declined to comment on the speculation.

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