ITV Studios has bought a majority stake in Cattleya, the esteemed Italian production company behind Sky Italia crime series “Gomorrah” and upcoming Netflix original “Suburra.” Cattleya is also making cocaine-trafficking drama “ZeroZeroZero,” which is based on a book by “Gomorrah” writer Roberto Saviano, and co-financed by Sky Italia and Canal Plus France.
The deal marks the first M&A activity for ITV Studios – the content arm of U.K. broadcaster ITV – in Italy. It comes as Italian drama finds a wider range of buyers in the international market.
It is also the first acquisition since ITV’s previous CEO, Adam Crozier, exited, and comes ahead of the January start of his successor, Carolyn McCall. Peter Bazalgette, ITV’s chairman and interim CEO, had signaled that the buying spree would continue after Crozier’s departure.
Variety reported in July that a deal with Cattleya was in the cards. ITV has been an aggressive acquirer of production companies, notably in the U.S. Its deal with Cattleya gives it a stake in one of Italy’s most influential producers, one that works across TV and film. Cattleya’s movie output includes best foreign-language Academy Award nominee “Don’t Tell.”
Cattleya will retain full creative and production autonomy, ITV said, with ITV Global Entertainment handling distribution of its upcoming projects. Former Mediaset executives Riccardo Tozzi and producers Marco Chimenz and Giovanni Stabilini were the company’s major shareholders before the ITV deal.
Tozzi, Cattleya’s founder and c0-CEO, welcomed the deal with ITV, whose “strategy of investing in European and international high-profile production companies and TV content is perfectly in line with the ever-growing demand for high-end drama series,” he said. “It also corresponds to the direction in which Cattleya has been headed over the last several years, to create scripted drama that will present the best of Italian and European talent to the world.”
French media investor Mediawan was at one point also pursuing the Rome-based producer, which recorded revenues of $82 million in 2015, the last year for which its results have been disclosed. TV is expected to account for two thirds of the business by 2019.
“Riccardo, Giovanni, Marco, Gina and Francesca have established an enviable reputation as first-class drama producers by building brilliant relationships across the globe to develop ambitious projects which appeal to audiences everywhere,” said Maria Kyriacou, president of ITV Studios International.
“This, coupled with our confidence that the demand for high-end European drama will continue to grow, make[s] Cattleya a perfect partner for ITV Studios as we continue with our strategy to build an international scripted business.”