Paris-based media group Mediawan has launched a new pan-European entity, Mediawan Alliance, and has entered exclusive negotiations to acquire France’s Lagardere Studios.

The company has also acquired a majority stake in Spain’s Good Mood. Mediawan Alliance has also entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire Troisieme Oeil, a top French production company owned by Pierre-Antoine Capton, chairman of the Mediawan board.

Mediawan Alliance is being financially backed by the French investment firm MACSF and the U.S. private equity firm KKR, and is headquartered in Paris. The new entity will be co-headed by Capton as CEO, and Leonine CEO’s Fred Kogel as deputy CEO.

Capton launched Mediawan with Xavier Niel and Mathieu Pigasse four years ago. The three entrepreneurs currently own 19.75% of Mediawan and are creating Mediawan Alliance as a vehicle to make a tender offer on the remaining 73% of Mediawan’s shares.

If the tender offer on Mediawan’s shares is successful, Mediawan Alliance will receive a minority stake in Leonine, a leading German production and distribution company involved in both film and TV which boasts KKR as its majority shareholder. The outcome of the transaction is expected to be unveiled in September.

Leonine was launched in 2019 from the merger of Tele München Group, Universum Film, i&u TV, Wiedemann & Berg Film and W&B Television. The company’s early track record includes the acclaimed Netflix Original “Dark”, the award-winning series “Pagan Peak” and the German B.O. smash hit “Nightlife.” On the distribution side, Leonine handled the German releases of “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” and “Knives Out,” among others.

“For all Leonine companies this is, one year after its foundation, another big step forward in order to be able to provide our partners and customers in Germany with even more premium content and to open up further opportunities – also beyond Germany’s borders – for all our
creative talents,” said Fred Kogel, CEO of Leonine and Deputy CEO of Mediawan Alliance.

Meanwhile, Philipp Freise, partner and co-Head of European private equity at KKR pointed that “in just one year Leonine has become one of the most attractive content houses in Europe – and this journey is not over yet.”

“We created Mediawan four years ago with the intention to create a European audiovisual champion to respond to the demand for premium content, and these new operations are unprecedented steps to continue our growth in new European geographies, new formats and with new partners,” said Capton.

“The combination with key players like Lagardère Studios and Groupe Troisième Oeil and the cooperation on projects with Leonine confirm Mediawan’s strategy,” added Capton.
Capton said it was key for the founders to control Mediawan and the partnership with KKR and MACSF is giving them the financial muscle to make this happen. Mediawan Alliance won’t be listed at the stock market and will operate as a European powerhouse with strong brands and talents involved in both film and TV production and distribution, explained Capton.

“Within the last three years, we’ve acquired more than 20 companies and we’re now ready to fire up the second stage of our growth with some more strategic acquisitions to come internationally,” said the executive.

Lagardere Studios is an expansive French TV producer-distributor comprising 27 companies, including the Spanish banner Boomerang, which owns rights to a number of popular U.S. animated TV shows., and Atlantique Productions which executive produced the Damien Chazelle’s Netflix series “The Eddy”), and Imagissime, the documentary company behind the hit Netflix documentary series “Who Killed Little Gregory?”

Lagardere Studios has been on the market for some time and struggled to find a buyer. Vivendi, the parent company of Canal Plus Group and Universal Music Group, recently acquired a 10.6% stake in Lagardere, the parent company of Lagardère Studios.

Earlier this month, Mediawan launched a screening and distribution platform to fast-track dealmaking and make up for the raft of physical markets that are being canceled due to the coronavirus crisis. The company already owns Italy’s Palomar and France’s ON Entertainment, among a flurry of companies in France.