Exec partners with Elisabeth Murdoch on international unit

Ben Silverman is back in business with Elisabeth Murdoch, partnering with her Shine Group to launch a new international unit.

Silverman’s new multimedia company, Electus (a part of Barry Diller’s IAC), has struck a deal with Shine Intl. to launch Electus Distribution, which will oversee worldwide sales for Electus’ TV, film and digital output. Silverman, who sold his Reveille shingle to Murdoch for $125 million in 2008, announced the alliance on Tuesday.

He’ll run the new division along with Shine Intl. prexy Chris Grant — who was originally hired by Silverman at Reveille to handle that company’s international operations.

According to Grant, the partnership will allow Silverman immediate access to an established international distribution pipeline. In other words, rather than having to build a new international operation from scratch, Silverman will rely on the operation he previously built at Reveille.

“Given the shorthand that Ben and I have, we’ll be able to hit the ground running at 100 miles an hour,” Grant said. “From a business perspective and a personal perspective, it made all the sense in the world…(Silverman’s) approach to international content has helped shape my vision of the distribution business.”

Electus Distribution will be based at Shine Intl.; Silverman and Grant are currently looking at hiring execs to staff the division.

As part of the arrangement, Electus and Shine Intl. are looking to co-fund projects and make third-party production deals.

First up, Electus Distribution has sealed a deal with Israel’s Abbot Reif Hameiri Prod. Co. As part of that setup, Electus is in line to develop Abbot Reif Hameiri’s programming throughout the world outside Israel (including the U.S.), while that company will have the ability to sell Electus content to the Israeli marketplace.

Electus has already identified Abbot Reif Hameiri’s gamer “Cuckoo’s Nest,” which launched as a Facebook application and turned into a TV series. “Cuckoo’s Nest,” which will now be developed for U.S. auds, consists of daily live broadcasts on Facebook and will utilize both a studio-based game and home-based audience participation.

“The deal with Abbot Reif Hameiri will make great strides in sharing exceptional content throughout the world — both by bringing their outstanding multiplatform programming and talent to U.S. audiences and by exporting Electus content to Israeli audiences,” Silverman said.

Beyond that, Grant said he and Silverman are looking now at bringing more scripted fare overseas, just as they earlier had success with selling nonscripted formats (“Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” “The Biggest Loser”) abroad.

Electus Distribution plans to staff up quickly, with a mix of execs moving over from Shine, as well as new hires.

“We’re getting into this quickly,” Grant said.

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