Italian TV and film production company Palomar – which is at the Berlin Film Festival with Claudio Giovannesi’s competition entry “Pirhanas” – last month forged a strategic alliance with France’s Mediawan under which Mediawan took a majority stake in Palomar which, in turn, became a Mediawan stakeholder. The deal marked the first acquisition outside France for Mediawan, which was launched in 2016 by French media industry veterans Xavier Niel, Matthieu Pigasse and Pierre-Antoine Capton and has since become an integrated media group that ranks as France’s biggest producer of television fiction content. Palomar founder and CEO Carlo Degli Esposti and its managing director Nicola Serra spoke to Variety about how the Mediawan deal will help them expand internationally together.
I believe you had balked at other offers from non Italian companies before. What made you go with Mediawan?
Degli Esposti (pictured, right)
We were actually trying to grow by buying another company outside of Italy, but Italy’s economic climate did not allow it. What I like about Mediawan is they are young and really enthusiastic about our product and they share our passion for that more than other prospective partners we spoke with. Also they are expanding and they have a winning spirit. But it’s not that Palomar has started speaking French. It’s more like Mediawan has started speaking Italian…so that going forward we can together speak many other languages.
Palomar will be operating within the Mediawan Originals unit. What are the synergies?
Serra (pictured, left)
The key thing is they introduced themselves to us as a group of independent producers, and we verified that they really are independent —and they guaranteed us a strong creative and administrative autonomy. That was the basis of the agreement. That said, there is a plan to find synergies between the various companies. Another key aspect is that they are a big French TV producer…But we are the first company they buy outside France. This is important because we are consolidating Italian production, but expanding internationally. So within this group [Mediawan Originals] we are the gateway for internationalization of their product.
Xavier Niel owns the majority stake in the telecom company Iliad, which is active both in France and Italy. Is is possible that the content you make will end up on Iliad?
Iliad is young in Italy, we hope our partner will continue to grow, and within total mutual freedom, if we manage to converge that would be a great step forward both for Iliad and Mediawan. But it’s not on the agenda right now.
You work with all the Italian broadcasters. Will this alliance open inroads into French broadcasters?
Of course. Mediawan will open convergences that can give our product more strength nationally and internationally..There is now a system in place…and it will good for us to have their input…Now we are in a new phase in which we will be thinking more international from the outset and getting feedback.
Your top product right now is “The Name of The Rose,” starring John Turturro and Rupert Everett. When is that rolling out?
We will have a global release this Spring. And we are hoping that worldwide it will do even better than other recent Italian product. This show was sold everywhere even before it was completed.