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RDF sold to management, De Mol

Consortium pays $78 million

LONDON — U.K. shingle RDF Media, makers of “Wife Swap” and “Faking It,” is set to be bought for £52 million ($78 million) by a consortium led by Endemol co-founder John de Mol and involving the producer’s management team.

Under the terms of the proposed deal, due to be finalized in February, RDF will be taken over by a new company called Bidco, formed by the company’s executive directors, and Dasym, a business managed by de Mol’s Cyrte Investment vehicle.

In a statement, RDF’s independent directors said: “In this difficult economic environment and with an uncertain outlook for the sector and RDF’s customers, the independent directors believe that the proposals represent satisfactory value for RDF shareholders, providing an immediate cash exit at a substantial premium to the recent market price.”

RDF’s CEO David Frank, a former BBC business journo who founded the company in 1993, will pocket £5.9 million ($8.85 million) from his 11.33% stake in the company.

De Mol’s Cyrte Investments formed a partnership with RDF management last spring to bid for RDF, one of Blighty’s biggest indies.

Frank said: “I look forward to working with the rest of the management team on building our position as one of the leading independent producers of content in the U.K. and U.S and a growing force in distribution worldwide.”

Specializing in factual entertainment skeins like “Wife Swap” and “Faking It,” RDF seemed to lead a charmed life until a controversy over a docu about British monarch Elizabeth II in the summer of 2007 led to a commissioning ban from local broadcasters ITV and BBC.

The row led to the departure of RDF’s highly regarded creative director, Stephen Lambert, and the resignation of BBC 1 controller Peter Fincham who had claimed, wrongly, that the film showed the Queen “storming out” of a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz.

The commissioning ban was subsequently lifted.

RDF’s recent U.K. successes have included “The Secret Millionaire,” bought by Fox in the U.S.

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