AMSTERDAM — Less than a week into 1998, Dutch-based Endemol Entertainment continued a furious buying spree, begun just over a year ago, by acquiring a 45% interest in ARAN, one of Italy’s largest independent TV production companies.
The move gives Endemol its first firm foothold in Italy, Europe’s fourth-largest television market. Revenue for the successful Rome-based drama, comedy and entertainment production outfit is expected to hit $25 million in the 1997-98 fiscal year.
ARAN, founded by current managing director Marco Bassetti, supplies programming to both public and commercial broadcasters and produces some of Italy’s most successful TV dramas, including “Caro Maestro,” a series which brought in a market share of 30% and some 8 million viewers. It is now also being produced in Spain in partnership with Zeppelin, a company in which Endemol also owns a 45% stake.
As with most other companies it has snapped up around Europe, Endemol has an option to increase its stake in ARAN to a majority position. “We like to go for a minority stake and convince the management creatives responsible for the success of the companies to stay on,” said Endemol spokesman Thomas Notermans. If everybody’s happy, Endemol may eventually take a larger stake, he added.
As with its acquisitions in other territories, Endemol Entertainment Intl. will become the worldwide distributor for ARAN productions.
Endemol announced last October it planned to build a significant presence in Europe’s five biggest territories — Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the U.K. The deal with ARAN gives it a presence in four of those countries.
Endemol has been trying to find the right production partner in the U.K. for years, a goal it expects to achieve in 1998, said Notermans.