RTL Group Nears Acquisition of StyleHaul (Exclusive)

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European broadcasting giant RTL Group is poised to buy full control of StyleHaul, the fashion- and lifestyle-focused multichannel network in which RTL is already an investor, sources said.

The deal is expected to be officially signed within the next two weeks, according to sources. The sale process is being handled by Guggenheim Partners; the acquisition price range under discussion is not clear.

Reps for RTL and StyleHaul declined to comment.

L.A.-based StyleHaul has raised $17 million in funding from investors including RTL Group — parent company of FremantleMedia — and Germany’s Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, which in turn owns a majority stake in RTL. Other StyleHaul backers include venture-capital firm RezVen Partners.

With the MCN space heating up this year, StyleHaul has been approached in recent months about a potential acquisition by suitors including Amazon, 21st Century Fox, Hearst and Condé Nast Publications, according to multiple sources. The biggest deal in the space so far has been Disney’s purchase of Maker Studios, potentially worth up to $950 million.

RTL, among its digital investments, also owns a controlling stake in YouTube video-management firm BroadbandTV and via FremantleMedia holds a stake in German MCN Divimove. Over all, Luxembourg-based RTL owns interests in 53 TV channels and 28 radio stations in 10 countries.

StyleHaul boasts a large audience in the coveted demo of teen girls and young women. The company’s network comprises 4,500-plus channels on YouTube, which collectively have more than 175 million subscribers (and more than 60 million unique monthly viewers). The MCN’s YouTube creator partners, hailing from 62 countries, include iJustine, Zoella, bubzbeauty and JLovesMac1.

Last year, the MCN landed a pact with FremantleMedia North America to jointly launch up to 10 scripted and unscripted original series over the next two years. The first under that deal was talk show “The Crew,” which debuted in January.

Earlier this year, StyleHaul hired Mia Goldwyn, VP of biz dev at Paramount Pictures’ digital division, to lead its original programming efforts as the company’s chief content officer. Her first deal was landing digital rights to “Web Therapy,” the Lisa Kudrow comedy series entering its fifth season that also has a TV window on Showtime. The company also hired former AOL advertising exec Rob DeChiaro to run the newly created StyleHaul Studios. He’s charged with overseeing branded content for marketers featuring the MCN’s roster of digital talent.

StyleHaul was founded in 2011 by president and CEO Stephanie Horbaczewski along with Allen and Aaron DeBevoise, who have launched other MCNs including Machinima and DanceOn.