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Chellomedia's channels reach 138 countries

LONDON — AMC Networks has inked a deal to acquire Chellomedia, the international content division of Liberty Global, for €750 million ($1.035 billion). The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.

The acquisition gives AMC access to an extensive array of TV channels that are distributed to more than 390 million households in 138 countries, allowing AMC to distribute programming from AMC, IFC, Sundance Channel and WE tv across a far bigger global footprint. The channels span a range of genres, including movie and entertainment networks.

AMC already owns an international programming biz, AMC/Sundance Channel Global, which has grown rapidly over the past five years.

“Chellomedia has developed a remarkable portfolio of popular channels that reach hundreds of millions around the world. As AMC Networks has expanded internationally, we have had a great desire to do something we consider fundamentally strategic, which is to take our content and put it on channels we own,” said Josh Sapan, president and CEO of AMC Networks.

“This acquisition allows us to secure a large, global platform on which to distribute our increasingly successful original programming through a collection of strong, well-established and well-managed assets worldwide.

“Together, we can grow these assets and make them even more popular and valuable around the world.”

During a conference call with investors, AMC executives said the company would, over the “mid to long term” look to place its programming on the Chellomedia networks, many of which are already devoted to entertainment programming and movies. Even so, they acknowledged some of AMC’s most popular series at present may not make its way to the new holdings. “The Walking Dead,” for example, is already spoken for as part of a pact with Fox International, which oversees international distribution of the series. Placement of new programming could depend on whether or not AMC produces the show, or whether the show is owned by a separate studio.

“Over the long run, AMCX will now have a great global web of networks, over which they can make content distribution decisions in a big matrix to optimize total return on content investment,” said Todd Juenger, an analyst for Bernstein Research, in a Monday research note. ” But in the medium term, much of AMCX’s content already has international distribution in place, and even in the longer run, whenever there are other participants in the shows (which is most of the time), they will demand a full market price in each geography, which means accepting bids from competing networks.”

Chellomedia’s prexy, Niall Curran, said, “AMC Networks are content professionals with an excellent creative and business track record. They are highly enthusiastic about the business we have built at Chellomedia and are ambitious to develop it further, making AMC Networks a great owner and partner for Chello’s next phase of growth.”

The agreement includes the acquisition of Chellomedia’s operating businesses including: Chello Central Europe, Chello Latin America, Chello Multicanal, Chello Zone, the ad sales unit Atmedia and the broadcast solutions unit Chello DMC.

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