Global investment firm KKR has acquired Tele München Group, one of Germany’s largest television businesses.
The surprise deal was announced Thursday. New York-based global investor KKR has holdings in multiple sectors, including infrastructure, energy and real estate. Tele München Group, or TMG, is active in both production and distribution; its projects include the highly anticipated drama series “The Name of the Rose,” starring John Turturro and Rupert Everett.
The financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close in April, were not disclosed. The sale marks a major shift on the TV landscape in Europe’s biggest economy.
Philipp Freise, head of KKR’s European Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry team, said in a statement that the firm was “excited to partner with TMG to create something new in the film and TV business: a platform that covers the entire value chain from film set to cinema and TV and which we will build out further through acquisitions.”
KKR said the focus would be on premium content. Fred Kogel, a veteran of the entertainment industry and former head of indie German studio Constantin Film, was named as TMG’s new CEO.
“We want to be the go-to partner for top-class creatives, TV channels and digital platforms in Germany,” Kogel said.
Tele München Group was founded nearly 50 years ago, in 1970, as a television production company. Under longtime leader and owner Herbert G. Kloiber, the company expanded to become a vertically integrated media powerhouse active in production and distribution, with 3,200 titles in its library. It has also branched into film.
In May 2017, TMG launched its own streaming service, Filmtastic, which is available through outlets such as Amazon Prime Video Channels. The group holds shares in German TV channels Tele 5 and RTL II, and is a majority stakeholder in listed production company Odeon Film AG.
But the company has struggled to keep abreast of all the changes that have reconfigured the entertainment landscape. That, coupled with Kloiber’s age – he is in his 70s – has led to talk of a potential change in leadership or ownership at TMG, which in recent years has been helmed by Kloiber and his son, Herbert L. Kloiber.
While other German powerhouses such as Beta Film, Bavaria Film and ZDF Enterprises have moved heavily into international coproduction and making and owning high-end TV content that is increasingly popular abroad, TMG has been slower to the party. The streamers are increasingly active locally and the pay-TV players have also ramped up commissioning meaning that German drama is in demand. The likes of “Babylon Berlin,” “Dark” and “Das Boot” have all received global recognition.
“I am proud of what we have achieved at TMG in the past four decades,” the elder Kloiber said. “Following much deliberation, I have decided to place my life’s work into the hands of KKR and thus to ensure that TMG, with its wonderful employees, may continue to grow and succeed.”
He will continue to serve as an advisor.