Local production is seen as key element
LONDON — NBC Universal is in preliminary talks over a bid for the U.K. super-indie All3Media that would involve several hundred million dollars.
NBC is understood to have requested financial information about All3Media, owners of a string of producers in Blighty, as well as shingles in Germany, New Zealand and the U.S.
NBC has made no secret of its desire to beef up production outside the U.S. and last year appointed former-studio topper Angela Bromstad to spearhead an acquisitions drive from a new office in London.
Bromstad was unavailable for comment, but NBC Universal International prexy Peter Smith told the Daily Telegraph: “We want to go into two or three fast-growing emerging markets and a couple of existing mature markets where we already have a presence that are big enough to be meaningful to us. The U.K. and Germany come to mind.”
“Increasingly, the vast majority of content on television is locally produced, so it makes a lot of sense to take a position locally.”
Any bid for All3Media, owners of one of Germany’s biggest production combos, MME Moviement, is likely to involve a partner because of the amount of coin involved.
All3Media, whose assets also include a distribution business, was bought by private equity combo Permira for $626.6 million in 2006 after being formed by former-Granada high flyers Steve Morrison, Jules Burns and David Liddiment.
NBC Universal is also making eyes at two other U.K. indies — comedy specialist Baby Cow, formed by actor and writer Steve Coogan, and Carnival, the drama producer, which has apparently also generated takeover interest from terrestrial web ITV.
NBC International, which last August paid $330 million for London-based Sparrowhawk Holdings, owners of Hallmark Channels’ international arm, is seeking to double sales to $5 billion by 2010.