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John de Mol and Frank Botman


THE DEALMAKER: Everyone has heard of John de Mol, the former pirate radio DJ who invented “Big Brother” and became the third-richest man in Holland in the process. Few people know Frank Botman, the discreet dealmaker who invests de Mol’s personal billions.

Botman is the chairman of Dutch-based Cyrte Investments, created to manage de Mol’s wealth after he sold Endemol in 2000 to Spanish telco Telefonica for $7.8 billion. Cyrte has since expanded to take on other investors, and in 2007 it became part of the E68 billion ($96 billion) asset management group Delta Lloyd.

But it remains closely identified with de Mol, seeking out the kind of content businesses that he understands best. In 2007, Cyrte partnered with Mediaset and Goldman Sachs to buy back Endemol for $5 billion. It has invested widely in the British indie TV sector.

Botman also brokered the merger of legendary Brit horror label Hammer, in which Cyrte bought a substantial stake last year, with Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s Spitfire Pictures, to create HS Media, a film production and distribution group with global ambitions.

Deal, announced at Cannes, was an uncharacteristically splashy move by Botman. He follows the example of de Mol, who, despite his career as a showman, likes to keep his affairs as private as possible.

“The cult of personality you might see at Goldman Sachs doesn’t exist at Cyrte,” says one exec who has done deals with Botman. “They don’t say much in public because they don’t have to.”

Meanwhile, de Mol, who also has a 26% stake in RTL Netherlands, heads the content division of his own company, Talpa Media, and spends his time developing new ideas for TV shows.

KEY DEALS: Cyrte partnered with Mediaset and Goldman Sachs to buy back Endemol for $5 billion. Also brokered merger of horror label Hammer with Spitfire Pictures to create HS Media.

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