Pearson goes global via Grundy purchase

Pearson, the British media group, has taken a big step forward in its global TV ambitions by agreeing to buy international television producer Grundy Worldwide for $279 million.

The surprise deal, which was initiated by Greg Dyke, the newly appointed chairman and chief exec of Pearson TV, means Grundy has aborted its plans for a public offering on the New York and Australian stock exchanges.

“We are buying a major television business that will fit extremely well with our existing interests,” said Dyke. “This purchase transforms us from a national to an international producer.”

“Grundy has a legendary reputation for efficient financial management of its productions in different markets, and I see the acquisition as a vital ingredient in our overall strategy,” he said.

Reg Grundy, the Australian founder and 85% shareholder of the company that bears his name, said, “Clearly this has been one of the most important decisions of my life. There are benefits in remaining an independent company, but in the current fast-changing world of global media, the advantages of teaming up with a company the size and scope of Pearson are self-evident.”

Strong in Oz

Grundy Worldwide specializes in producing local versions of long-running soaps and gameshows around the world. It is particularly strong in Australia, where it started 37 years ago, and in Europe; its presence in North America is relatively weak.

Pearson’s existing TV production interests include Thames TV, the U.K.’s largest indie, as well as Financial Times TV, a spinoff from the newspaper, which Pearson also owns. It has minority stakes in several terrestrial and satellite broad casters in the U.K., including the ITV company Yorkshire Tyne Tees TV, British Sky Broadcasting, UK Gold and UK Living. It is also part of a consortium bidding for the U.K.’s Channel 5 license.

Internationally, Pearson has a strategic alliance with the BBC to launch cable and satellite channels around the world, starting earlier this year with two Euro webs. It recently acquired a 10% stake in Hong Kong broadcaster TVB, which also involves an alliance in India with TVB and the Hindustan Times.

Pearson identified three main reasons for buying Grundy: Grundy’s good financial health; its experience at adapting shows to different local markets; and its management skills and library, which will help expand Pearson’s international broadcasting interests. Dyke highlighted Asia as a region where Grundy’s expertise would be particularly valuable in helping Pearson to establish its presence.

More TV

  • Writers Guild Posts Scathing Video Attack

    Writers Guild Posts Scathing Video Attack on Agency Packaging

    The Writers Guild of America, which is threatening to require members to fire their agents, has posted a scathing video attacking how major agencies conduct packaging. Titled “Agency Conflicts of Interest,” the video explains that compensation for writers has declined by 23% between 2014 and 2016 and blames the agencies for taking packaging fees on [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Million Dollar Mile'

    TV News Roundup: 'Million Dollar Mile' Debuts Exclusive First Look

    In today’s roundup, “Million Dollar Mile” releases an exclusive clip and CBS announces premiere dates for three shows.  DATES CBS has announced premiere dates for one new series and two returning series. The new action adventure series “Blood and Treasure” will debut with a two-hour episode Tuesday, May 21 at 9 p.m. right after the [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Agents Accuse Writers Guild of Threatening to Throw 'Industry Into Chaos'

    UPDATE – The dealmakers appear to be getting nowhere. Negotiators for Hollywood agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved little progress at their seventh session on Tuesday, with a chaotic scenario looming on April 7. “When Guild leadership is ready to move on from their declared threatening phase, we stand ready to work [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    Assessing 'Empire' Options After Jussie Smollett Charges Dropped

    The shocking Jussie Smollett saga took another twist on Tuesday after prosecutors announced they have dropped all charges against the “Empire” star. Smollett had been indicted on 16 counts of filing a false police report, but now that those counts have all disappeared, studio 20th Century Fox finds itself in a sticky situation as to [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett's Legal Drama Eclipses the Rest of His Story (Column)

    Like so many other stories these days, the Jussie Smollett legal saga seemed governed not by coherent logic, but by chaos, and, in its absence of narrative, invites any observer to find in it the story they prefer hearing. Smollett, the “Empire” star who had been in legal jeopardy due to allegations of staging a [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Plans for Agency Pact Expiration: 'There Will Be Difficult Moments'

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent members contingency plans for the possible expiration of its agency franchise agreement on April 7 — and admitted that it may be a rocky road. Members received the letter Tuesday from the guild’s negotiating committee as the WGA and agents were about the hold their seventh [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content