French TV group Banijay is in advanced talks to acquire production and distribution giant Endemol Shine, Variety has confirmed.
The deep-pocketed Banijay Group, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is controlled by Stéphane Courbit’s LOV Group and De Agostini Group’s DeA Communications. French media giant Vivendi also holds a significant stake.
Endemol Shine, the Netherlands-based producer of “Big Brother,” “MasterChef” and “Black Mirror,” is jointly owned by 21st Century Fox and private equity fund Apollo Global Management. It was put on the block earlier this year.
Although a number of companies are believed to have expressed an initial interest in acquiring Endemol, the field has narrowed considerably in recent weeks. On Wednesday, ITV, the U.K.’s biggest commercial broadcaster, ruled out a bid, joining Fremantle in publicly disassociating itself from the Endemol sale. Sony has bowed out, and Endeavor, which took a look at Endemol, is not believed to have entered the sale process.
Buying Endemol “would be a big change for Banijay, as it would more than double in size,” said Tim Westcott, senior analyst at IHS. Although Banijay is present in 16 countries around the world, its footprint is light in some countries. Acquiring Endemol Shine, which has a network of 120 production companies in more than 20 territories, would allow Banijay to “increase its international reach,” Westcott said.
“Vivendi is now a significant shareholder in Banijay Group and is interested in expanding its international perimeter and they happen to have quite a lot of cash after a series of recent selloffs,” said Westcott, referring to Vivendi’s unloading of its shares in Ubisoft. In July, Vivendi also announced its intention to sell half of its shares in Universal Music Group.
Westcott noted that Courbit is very familiar with Endemol, having presided over Endemol France for several years.
Banijay CEO Marco Bassetti is also an old Endemol hand. He founded Endemol Italy in 1997, became chief operating officer of the Endemol Group in 2007 and then president in 2009 before stepping down in 2012.
Banijay’s revenue for the financial year ending in December 2017 was €846.6 million ($974 million), 22% of which was generated in France. Operating out of Paris, London and Copenhagen, Banijay boasts hit shows such as “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” “Wife Swap,” “Survivor,” “Shipwrecked,” “Child Support,” “Occupied” and “Versailles.”
Endemol Shine’s operating revenue in 2017 was €1.84 billion ($2.12 billion), down from €1.89 billion ($2.17 billion) in 2016 and €1.98 billion ($2.28 billion) in 2015.
Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.