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Endemol Shine Sale Called Off (EXCLUSIVE)

UPDATED: The sale of Endemol Shine is off, Variety has learned. Senior staff members at the production and distribution giant were told this week that the company’s co-owners, 21st Century Fox and Apollo Global Management, have decided to suspend the process, a source with knowledge of the matter said Tuesday.

With the sale shelved, Fox’s 50% stake will be taken over by Disney as part of the Mouse’s purchase of various Fox entertainment assets. That deal is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

Endemol Shine, the maker of “Black Mirror” and “Big Brother,” was put on the block this summer, and shareholders hoped it would fetch upwards of $2 billion. (Its operating revenue in 2017 was about $2.1 billion.) But several big-name suitors ruled themselves out, including onetime favorite ITV and other potential acquirers such as Sony and Fremantle. French company Banijay Group had been in advanced talks to buy Endemol Shine in recent weeks, but Fox and Apollo have now decided to preserve the status quo.

An industry insider with knowledge of Banijay’s bid said that the company had tendered a bid worth about $3.2 billion – $700 million in cash and the rest an assumption of Endemol Shine’s debt. “Endemol backed out because it’s better to not sell for the price that Banijay proposed….You might as well file for bankruptcy,” the insider said. “I think Endemol will have to reduce its debt on its own at this point.”

The halting of the sale process comes just weeks after a senior Endemol exec predicted that a deal would be completed “in a month or two.”

Employees at Endemol Shine had already told Variety that development, production and sales were continuing as usual amid the sales talks, but they privately admitted to jitters over the company’s future. Officially based in Amsterdam but with its main office in London, the company is itself the result of a mega-merger between Endemol and Shine, which took place in 2014. Current CEO Sophie Turner Laing oversaw the integration of the two TV entities.

Endemol Shine has an international network of production businesses spanning scripted, unscripted and factual content, and a fully fledged distribution arm with several offices around the world.

Major programming franchises include “Masterchef” in unscripted and “Peaky Blinders” (co-produced with Caryn Mandabach Productions) in scripted.

Apollo, 21st Century Fox and Endemol Shine all declined to comment.

Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report.

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