“It’ll be in a month or two,” Salmon told attendees at the Royal Television Society’s annual conference in London. But he declined to be drawn on who the successful buyer would likely be, just as ITV CEO Carolyn McCall, on the same stage earlier, refused to address reports that her company was in the running.
Endemol Shine has spent the summer promoting itself and opening its books to potential buyers, with the field of serious suitors narrowing in recent weeks. Rumored to be interested are ITV, Sony, Lionsgate and All3Media, among others. While the potential sale continues to generate gossip within the industry, Salmon said that day-to-day operations at the company behind Emmy-winning “Black Mirror,” “Big Brother” and “MasterChef” continued as normal.
“We’re working around the clock at the moment on some of this stuff….A few of us at the center worry about it,” but the rank and file do not, Salmon said.
Sharing the stage with Salmon and addressing the conference’s theme of consolidation (“Is Bigger Better?”), Jeff Wachtel, president of NBCUniversal International Studios, said his company was aiming to expand further through acquisitions. Already the owner of television producers Carnival Films (“Downton Abbey”) and Working Title, NBCUniversal is looking at acquisition targets outside the English-speaking world.
“You can’t be global unless you’re local everywhere,” Wachtel said. “So we’re going to be growing through acquisition.”
He declined to comment on parent company Comcast’s bidding war with 21st Century Fox over European pay-TV heavyweight Sky, saying only that “it’s a very exciting company.” The battle for Sky looks increasingly likely to be decided soon by auction after months of offers and counteroffers by Fox and Comcast.