Keshet Intl. CEO Alon Shtruzman discussed the company’s $65 million scripted content fund, launched earlier this year, at a keynote speech in Rome on Thursday, as the company looks to ramp up its production of films and high-end dramas that could be the next “Homeland.”
Appearing onstage during the MIA Market with Lorenzo De Maio, head of TV sales and advisory group at Endeavor Content, the KI topper described the company’s latest move as one born out of necessity.
“We saw shows like ‘Homeland’ [based on Keshet’s Israeli format “Prisoners of War”]… making so much money for everyone but us,” he said. “We felt we had no choice, and we needed to take control of our destiny.”
KI, which is the international arm of Israeli broadcaster Keshet, has U.K. and U.S. outposts, as well as bases in Asia and Latin America, along with digital studios and film divisions. Keshet was behind scripted series like “Prisoners of War,” the inspiration for Showtime’s “Homeland,” and “False Flag,” which has sold to 127 territories, as well as unscripted formats like “Rising Star.”
Announced earlier this year, the KI fund will allow the company to scale up as it pursues its ambitions to become a major global player. “We have so much IP in the market, and so many opportunities to take more equity, we need to have more money to invest,” said Shtruzman.
The exec described wooing investors ahead of the fund’s launch this spring. “We knew that it can be pretty compelling to investors like pension funds and private equities to have the name Keshet in their portfolio, and also we offered a very lucrative opportunity to be part of the very profitable market of TV distribution,” he said.
The decision paid off. “The plan was to start at $20 million. But the market was so open, and the appetite was so big, that we ended up at $65 million,” he said.
The fund’s first deal was announced in May, when KI said it would be teaming up with Ecosse Films to distribute its forthcoming six-part BBC One drama “The Trial of Christine Keeler,” about the infamous Profumo Affair that rattled the U.K. in the 1960s.
Shtruzman said KI is looking at several other projects in the U.K., U.S., and Australia. Though the company is most interested in English-language projects that have a buyer lined up, he added that they’re “happy to entertain every opportunity.”
“Even though we’re gaining in momentum and size….we still try to be very nimble and agile,” he said. “If you have a piece of property, and you need some money, and you think it could be compelling enough for someone like Keshet, reach out.”