Tinopolis snaps up A Smith & Co

The $95 mil deal gives U.K. shingle a U.S. base

Blighty’s Tinopolis has acquired A. Smith & Co., the U.S. producer that makes unscripted fare including Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Hell’s Kitchen.”

Deal is believed to be worth about £60 million ($95 million).

Wales-based Tinopolis, which produces BBC public affairs show “Question Time” via its Mentorn subsidiary, had been scouting the U.S. for suitable acquisitions to give it a foothold across the Atlantic.

Tinopolis chairman Ron Jones said: “This deal makes us a producer in the USA with some scale. We have wanted to find a way in for some time, and we have looked at a couple of options in the past, but it had to be the right company at the right time.”

A. Smith & Co. was set up in 2000 by former Fox Sports and CBC Sports exec Arthur Smith. It also produces the U.S. version of Tinopolis’ “Paradise Hotel” plus “Conspiracy Theory,” “Unsung” and “I Survived a Japanese Game Show.”

Smith, who will remain with the company, said he’d been approached numerous times about acquisition opportunities but held out for a company that offered his firm growth opportunities and the autonomy that will allow it to retain its culture. Tinopolis will give Smith & Co. more chances to adapt formats and to bring its own formats across the pond.

“We already had a great relationship in the U.K. because of ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ and ‘Kitchen Nightmares,’ ” said Smith. “This really secures the European base for programming going in that direction.”

Smith & Co. has already done business with Tinopolis, teaming with Mentorn on “Paradise,” and that familiarity helped the acquisition talks.

Smith believes there’s synergies to be capitalized on that will allow him to tap into his former area of expertise. “Our sports base is going to grow a lot,” he said.

Smith & Co. will also keep an eye out for acquisition targets of its own Stateside. Last October, the company scooped up management-production firm Braverman/Bloom Co.

(Andrew Wallenstein in Hollywood contributed to this report.)