Nordic giants to unite

Schibsted, Endemol merge TV production

AMSTERDAM — Norwegian media giant Schibsted and European production and distribution outfit Endemol Entertainment plan to unite their TV production activities in a far-reaching strategic alliance in the Nordic territories.

The two companies have inked a letter of intent that has Endemol taking a 35% stake in Schibsted’s Metronome Film & Television, a holding company that houses some 10 production outfits in Norway, Sweden and Denmark and forms the largest TV production entity in the Nordic territories.

Schibsted will keep its 61.25% majority stake in Metronome.

As part of the deal, Endemol will also fold its two production units in Denmark and Sweden into Metronome Film & TV.

The expanded company is expected to rack up more than $50 million in revenues in the current fiscal year — considerably more than Metronome’s $22.4 million.

Valuable access

The deal will give the Schibsted raft of production companies access to valuable Endemol entertainment formats and the giant Norwegian media company itself a “partnership with a company that has both a European and an international perspective,” Jan Erik Knarbakk, executive vice president of Schibsted, told Daily Variety.

It is believed one of the first acts of the combined company will be to establish a production arm in Finland, the only Nordic territory where both Schibsted and Endemol are now not present.

Both Schibsted and Endemol also have ambitious plans for distribution, but the deal conspicuously “concentrates on production and leaves the distribution side of the equation out,” points out Knarbakk.

It also excludes Schibsted’s activities in the Baltic states, where the company owns a controlling interest in Kanal 2, one of the top commercial channels in Estonia.

Baltics possible

Knarbakk adds that a future inclusion of the Baltics in the alliance is not being ruled out.

Endemol has been on a frenzied buying spree throughout Europe over the past year and just last month picked up a 51% stake in hotshot German production and distribution company Helkon as well as a similar stake in Flamingo Films.

Schibsted is a 50% partner with Swedish company Sandrews in Sandrews Metronome, the largest vertically integrated theatrical and distribution company in the Nordic territories. “There are no plans to combine any of the Sandrews Metronome properties with the new entity,” Knarbakk noted.