Carlton buys rest of Hamdon

Brit co. may pay $30 mil

Britain’s Carlton is acquiring the 50% of L.A.-based Hamdon Entertainment that it does not already own.

The U.K. media conglom bought out its partner, Germany’s Studio Hamburg, and now intends to expand activities of Hamdon, a co-producer and distributor of TV movies. The deal was unveiled Monday in London.

Hamdon will be renamed Carlton America and will become the linchpin of the Carlton Media Group’s TV production activities throughout the U.S.

Sources stateside suggested that the U.K. company, one of the leading ITV commercial network players in Britain, will be spending in the $30 million range to up its U.S. presence through Hamdon.

Working with Carlton Intl., Carlton America will develop and co-produce other forms of TV programming, including drama, comedy and children’s programming, in addition to expanding further in telefilms.

Hamdon CEO Stephen Davis will retain the same title at Carlton America. Under Davis, Hamdon has amassed a library of more than 125 telefilms, most of which have premiered on the Big Four U.S. networks.

“Carlton clearly wanted to expand its opportunities in the U.S., knowing that the U.S. market is the driver for worldwide broadcast schedules. We are the vehicle for their expansion,” Davis told Daily Variety.

Davis said Carlton America would also be looking to exploit the 18,000-hour Carlton program library in the States, with a particular focus on format deals.

Sister ITV company Granada is already established in Hollywood and has reversioned a couple of its shows as U.S. formats.

Steven Cain, CEO of Carlton Communications, said in a statement, “Stepping up production is a key part of our strategy plan. By expanding in U.S. film and TV production we can help meet the growing demand around the world for quality television.”

Carlton published a 10-point strategy plan in May, including targets to double Carlton’s program production and to develop the Carlton brand name internationally.

Davis said that while Carlton America would be “fiscally conservative,” he did plan to boost his staff to handle the expanded production goals and distribution activities.

Execs at Studio Hamburg could not be reached for comment Friday, but L.A.-based sources suggested that for “linguistic and other cultural reasons,” Carlton had always been the dominant partner in the Hamdon alliance.