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Furthering its expansion into the global TV market, German publishing giant Axel Springer has shelled out an estimated $20 million for a majority stake in indie production-distribution outfit GRB Entertainment.

Axel Springer is acquiring 51% of Los Angeles-based GRB, whose backers also include the investment firm Allen & Co. GRB, headed by veteran producer Gary Benz, specializes in high-octane reality programming, ranging from series for cablers like the Discovery, Learning and Fox Family channels, to network primetime specs.

U.S.-based facilities

Earlier this year, Springer set up a TV arm in London through which it intends to expand into international production. GRB brings to Springer U.S.-based production facilities and an archive of evergreen sports, entertainment and action-oriented reality footage.

GRB also recently inked a deal to distribute CBS News Prods. programming in Europe and other international territories, excluding North America, Australia and Japan.

“The acquisition highlights Axel Springer’s transition from a German publishing house into an international media company, and it illustrates its expansion into the national and international TV industries,” said Dr. Ralf Kogeler, head of Axel Springer’s electronic media arm.

Financial wherewithal

For GRB, the pact with Springer gives the indie formed in 1987 the financial wherewithal to expand its purview, both at home and abroad. GRB programs already are carried internationally by France’s Canal Plus, Germany’s RTL, the U.K.’s ITV and Fuji-TV in Japan.

“Our future is incredibly brighter with a strategic partner that is one of the biggest media companies on the planet. There are so many ways we can work together,” said Benz, noting that GRB will be able to develop TV programs linked to stories that appear in Springer’s widely circulated newspapers Die Welt and Bild.