21st Century Fox, Apollo Global Management Poised for Joint Venture

Deal would unite Endemol, Shine, Core into one prodco supergroup

21st Century Fox and private equity giant Apollo Global Management have entered into a preliminary agreement to form a joint venture that would bring together some of the biggest production companies in TV, including Fox-owned Shine Group and Apollo-owned Endemol and CORE Media Group, the companies announced Thursday.

While there is no deal yet, such a pact would put the companies behind hit shows like “American Idol” and “Masterchef” under the control of two companies. “There can be no assurance that the proposed transaction will be completed,” read a statement from 21st Century Fox.

The rationale for such a deal would be to synergize the efforts of the three shingles, which all largely operate in unscripted TV, in a way that would likely reduce costs for all involved. The potential deal would also leave the combined entity more competitive as TV production companies across are in the grips of a wave of consolidation. The most recent example came last week as U.K.-based shingle All3Media was snapped up by Discovery Communications and Liberty Global for $930 million.

How oversight of this production supergroup would be set remains to be seen, with 21st Century Fox’s statement alluding to some combination of itself and “funds managed by affiliates” of Apollo.

All three entities involved in the prospective transaction are already sizable properties. Led by Elisabeth Murdoch, Shine Group encompasses 30 production companies across 12 countries, with properties including NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.”

In February, Apollo scooped up a majority stake in Dutch format juggernaut Endemol, which counts CBS’ “Big Brother” and NBC’s “Deal or No Deal” among its assets. There was already speculation that Apollo would merge the property with Apollo’s Core, which has “Idol” and another Fox property, “So You Think You Can Dance,” in its portfolio.

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