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France’s Banijay buys Bunim-Murray; more big deals to come?

Bunim_murray France-based Banijay Entertainment has consumated its months-long flirtation with “The Real World” producer Bunim-Murray.

Banijay has announced that it has acquired Bunim-Murray in a deal believed to be in the eight-figure range.

As part of the deal, Jonathan Murray will remain chairman of Bunim-Murray, while Bunim-Murray prexy Gil Goldschein plans to remain as well.

Bunim-Murray will also remain headquartered in Los Angeles and maintain its name.

“Bunim-Murray is one of the few companies with a proven history of delivering high volumes of entertaining and quality programming that strikes a chord with viewers and are continually renewed by networks season after season,” said Banijay Chairman Stéphane Courbit. “This acquisition reaffirms Banijay’s strategy to integrate in our group the best and most creative international television producers.”

Acquisiton comes as several international companies continue to kick the tires of U.S. production companies. European shingles — many of which look to emulate the model of mega-congloms FremantleMedia and Endemol — have been looking at U.S. outfits in order to gain a foothold in this marketplace.

Among the other companies said to be attracting suitors are Craig Piligian’s Pilgrim Films, A. Smith & Co. and David Broome’s 25/7 Prods. And France’s Zodiak is set to buy RDF Media, creating another major global player.

Banijay had already entered the U.S. marketplace via its co-development deal last year with Angel City Factory, the shingle recently formed by reality producers Chris Cowan and Jean-Michel Michenaud (who formerly ran infamous reality house Rocket Science Laboratories).

Banijay just created a worldwide distribution division, Banijay Intl., and tapped Karoline Spodsberg, currently Nordisk Film TV World international director, as its managing director. 

A pan-European TV powerhouse, Banijay also owns U.K.’s ZigZag, Spain’s Cuarzo, France’s Air Prods, ALJ Production, Depeche Prod. and Jes Prod., as well as Russia’s Intelegencia.

Bunim-Murray is one of the veterans of the reality world, having been formed more than 20 years ago by Murray and the late Mary-Ellis Bunim. “The Real World,” which launched in 1992, helped usher in the modern-day TV docuseries.

“By joining Banijay, (Bunim-Murray) will be able to continue its past success as well as access international formats and distribute its series and formats to the international marketplace,” Murray said. “I’ve spent the last year and a half getting to know Stéphane Courbit and his Banijay team and am convinced they are not only good people but the best people to help BMP reach its goals.” 

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