Barnicoat may lead bid for outfit

LONDON — Endemol chief operating officer Tom Barnicoat is leaving the Dutch-based production giant as Spanish parent Telefonica readies the producer for sale.

Surprise departure has sparked speculation that he will lead a management buyout backed by private equity coin.

Barnicoat, a member of Endemol’s management board, leaves with a severance and pension package totaling around $5.3 million.

Endemol said his responsibilities would be handled by “other members of the management board.”

Telefonica is expected to put its 78% stake in Endemol up for sale in the very near future and is likely to get some $1.8 billion for the producer of “Big Brother” and “Deal or No Deal.”

Those reputedly interested in bidding include former owner John de Mol’s Talpa Media and Endemol France president Stephane Courbit in tandem with Bernard Arnault, chairman-CEO of French fashion group LVMH.

Other parties reckoned to be interested are U.S. congloms Disney, Sony and News Corp., plus U.K. terrestrial broadcaster ITV.

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