RTL-owned production and distribution giant Fremantle, which has two films in competition in Venice, has entered exclusive negotiations to buy Italy’s Lux Vide, the prominent TV production company behind, most recently, the high-end “Medici,” “Devils” and “Leonardo” skeins.
Sources have confirmed to Variety a report in Italian financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore that Fremantle, which already owns two other Italian production companies — Wildside and The Apartment, the shingle behind Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Hand of God” and “America Latina” by the D’Innocenzo brothers — is in advanced talks to buy Lux.
Fremantle and Lux Vide declined to comment on Friday.
The two companies have entered exclusive negotiations which, if all goes well, will take some time to close. The Fremantle/Lux deal is not expected to close this month, as Sole reported, but rather by year’s end. The sale is being managed by global investment bank GCA Altium.
Founded in 1992 by Ettore Bernabei, who was a long-time former chief of Italian pubcaster RAI, Lux Vide is now headed by his progeny, Matilde and Luca Bernabei. They have been increasingly pushing into the U.S. and international markets with high-end shows such as “Medici,” “Leonardo” and upcoming “The Rising,” an English-language drama series about the human and secular story of Jesus Christ, while also continuing to churn out local product for RAI — with which Lux has five shows in the works — and several others commissioned by Italian broadcasters Mediaset and Sky Italia.
Besides the Bernabei family, which owns a majority Lux stake with 51.77%, the company’s other shareholders are Franco-Tunisian entrepreneur Tarak Ben Ammar’s Prima TV, which holds 15.33%; the Fondazione Scienza e Fede, which is a Vatican foundation, with a 16.99% chunk; and the Capaldo family, with a 10.88% stake
Lux Vide’s 2020 total earnings grew 60% to €14.2 million ($16.8 million) while profits doubled to €10 million ($11.8 million). The company produced €80 million ($94.9 million) worth of content.
Owning Lux Vide would accelerate Fremantle’s penetration of the Italian market as a provider of scripted content in the linear and pay TV spheres.
Besides its investments in Italy, Fremantle owns a panoply of companies across Europe, including Danish drama producers Miso Film, Dutch label Fiction Valley and French label Kwai, along with an assortment of British outfits such as Naked and Euston Films.