MADRID – In a first step in international expansion, Lagardère Active, one of France’s biggest media groups, has acquired an 82% stake in Spain’s Grupo Boomerang TV, producers of the original TV series “The Mysteries of Laura,” remade by Warner Bros. for NBC.
But Lagardère doesn’t look likely to stop there. In a drive for scale, Denis Olivennes (pictured), Lagardère Active president, recently signaled his interest to Le Figaro in acquiring a TV production group in the U.K., Germany or Scandinavia catapulting Lagardère into the top five entertainment forces in Europe.
“With Arnaud Lagardère’s full support from day one, we have the drive and means necessary to reach critical mass on the European audiovisual production market; this acquisition is a first step to get us there,” Olivennes said in a press statement Thursday.
Lagardere Entertainment, Lagardère Active’s entertainment division, is already France’s leading drama producer, its subsidies producing family drama “Clem” and the ”Transporter” series. Punching sales of €42.4 million ($46.4million) in 2014, Grupo Boomerang TV’s acquisition lifts it into ninth place of independent entertainment groups in Europe, judged by annual revenues, said Jean-Baptiste Sergeant at European broker MainFirst.
“The purchase makes sense strategically, enabling Lagardère Entertainment to reach a critical mass in the European market, generating economies of scale and the potential for re-versioning of formats,” he added, saying Lagardère Entertainment currently accounts for 17% of Lagardère Active’s revenue but is its biggest potential growth driver.
The Grupo Boomerang TV buy marks more than expansion into Spain. Grupo BTV also runs offices in Chile, has a market presence in Colombia, sells formats to Latin America and is regarded by Lagardere as a gateway into Latin America, a far more vibrant TV market currently than Spain.
Pepe Abril, Pedro Ricote and Juan José Diaz, Grupo BTV founding partners, will retain an 18% shareholding and oversee day-to-day management.
One of Spain’s top fiction/unscripted production houses, Grupo BTV can bring a clutch of assets to the table: A library of 23 fiction and over 100 entertainment shows; good working relations with near all of Spain’s broadcasters, including its big three nets Atresmedia, Mediaset España and pubcaster RTVE; a track record in international hits.
Per a The Wit Mip TV study, “5 Drama Trends For 2015,” the most-adapted scripted formats in 2014 came from Spain. Boomerang’s “The Mysteries of Laura” has been adapted in Italy, Netherlands, Russia and the U.S. Another Boomerang fiction, woman’s period meller “The Time in Between,” became the most watched series on any national network since January 2005, selling key territories such as for Latin America to Netflix and is the best-selling Spanish series in Asia, per Boomerang. In Spain, Grupo BTV has also re-versioned top formats such as “Top Chef” and “The Voice.”
In Latin America, Boomerang recently set up subsid, BCL Producciones in Chile and co-produced a local version of “Top Chef” with Chilean broadcaster TVN, which has successfully aired both “The Time In Between” and soap “The Secret of Old Bridge.”
“With this acquisition, Lagardère Entertainment will become a leading presence in two European countries. What’s more, thanks to Boomerang, we’ll establish a presence in Latin America via their subsidiary in Chile and with a growing presence in Colombia, thus reinforcing our expansion strategy in fast-growing countries, as in Africa.”
Lagardere’s play for a Latin American market presentation comes as a significant number of significant broadcast groups in Latin America and the Latino U.S. – Telemundo, Colombia’s Caracol TV, Argentina’s Telefe, for example – are moving into higher-end fiction series pitched at audiences in the region and beyond.
Margins for growth in Spain remain limited as Mediaset Espana and Atresmedia have scaled back on fiction commissions and budgets.
“We will keep working hard to increase our position as one of the leading audiovisual companies in the Spanish market and to consolidate our strategic expansion in Latin America,” said Grupo BTV general managers Abril, Ricote and Diaz.