Banijay, Zodiak Complete Merger; Vivendi Nabs 26.2% Share

PARIS — European production shingles Banijay Group and Zodiak Media have finalized their merger, becoming one of the world’s biggest indie production companies, boasting revenues of an estimated $1 billion.

Vivendi, the parent company of French pay TV giant Canal Plus and Universal Music Group, has completed its acquisition of a 26.2% stake in the newly combined outfit.

The new entity, regrouped under Banijay Group, is 73.8% controlled by Stéphane Courbit’s LOV Group (50.1%) and De Agostini Group’s DeA Communications (49.9%).

Courbit has been named chairman and Marco Bassetti has been appointed CEO of Banijay Group.

“I have every confidence that this strong group of managers and creative talent will thrive on the global stage,” said Courbit. “It is my pleasure to welcome Vivendi to our new group and we look forward to a prosperous future together.”

Banijay Group is a top producer of unscripted formats, and Zodiak Media produces hit properties such as “Wallander” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” and distributes hit scripted formats, including Canal Plus’ “The Returned” and “Versailles.”

Vivendi’s investment in Banijay Group reflects the company’s strategy to develop in-house original content production.

“One of (Vivendi)’s main goals is to invest in companies developing world-class, original programming,” said Arnaud de Puyfontaine, Vivendi’s CEO. “Banijay Group combines strong international creative talent with an extremely wide range of television shows and formats. I am convinced the new merged entity has all the skills and assets to deliver compelling entertainment for multiplatform media audiences.”

Banijay’s acquisition by Vivendi was made via a cash payment of 290 million Euros ($320 million). Vivendi also subscribed to two bonds for $110 million and 100 million Euros issued by Banijay Group and Courbit’s Lov Banijay. Both bonds have a seven-year maturity.

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