Endemol Shine Group is on the block. The company behind “Black Mirror” and “Masterchef” has called in banks to evaluate a possible sale that could see one of the world’s largest international TV production and distribution groups change hands.
The “Big Brother” and “Peaky Blinders” producer is jointly owned by 21st Century Fox and private equity group Apollo. CNBC, which first reported the news, said that the co-owners have agreed to sell if a buyer is found, and that Deutsche Bank and Liontree have been brought in to make it happen. The deal will be worth as much as $4 billion, including debt.
Endemol Shine declined to comment. Fox has not responded to a request for comment. But a source confirmed to Variety that a potential sale is being examined.
The 2014 merger of Endemol and Shine created a production and distribution powerhouse. It backs a raft of global production companies, including “Humans” producer Kudos and “Peaky Blinders” co-producer Tiger Aspect. It also has an extensive global content sales operation, Endemol Shine International.
CNBC said Fox spurned the opportunity to buy out Apollo’s share of ESG. Fox’s stake in the business is one of the assets Disney is attempting to land through its proposed acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets, although Comcast has made a counteroffer. Disney already has a significant international content distribution network, as does Comcast, through NBCUniversal, which it owns.
Endemol Shine turned out more than 800 productions last year in 79 territories around the world. It is headquartered in Amsterdam, with major bases in the U.K., U.S., Latin America and Asia. With that scale and an asking price in the billions of dollars, there is only a select number of possible industry buyers.
The Hollywood studios have the firepower, but also have existing international operations. The likes of Discovery and Liberty Global-backed All3Media, RTL’s FremantleMedia, or Britain’s ITV could have the means, should they want to add to their production and distribution networks in what would be a major rollup.
The U.S. streamers and tech companies are also making major international content plays, but generally seek global rights to programming. Whether they would want Endemol Shine’s international sales operation, and to distribute content to third parties, is open to question.