All3Media Being Eyed by Mediawan, Banijay, Sony After ITV Pulled Out of Acquisition (EXCLUSIVE)

All3Media Being Eyed by Mediawan, Banijay, Sony After ITV Pulled Out of Acquisition (EXCLUSIVE)

July 31, 2023

All3Media, the production-distribution giant behind “Fleabag,” “The Traitors” and Jamie Dornan-starrer “The Tourist,” will return to the sales block in September after ITV backed away from a deal last month.

The indie powerhouse, which is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery and Liberty Global, is now being quietly courted by a string of European players, from Plan B owner Mediawan to Banijay and Sony Pictures, according to several industry sources.

It’s understood that ITV had a preemptive right to explore an acquisition of All3Media, since both companies have a joint shareholder in Liberty Global (which owns nearly 9.9% of ITV). Sources indicate a deal wasn’t just likely, it was almost across the finish line. Some executives at the company were even calculating their redundancy packages due to the overlap between ITV and All3Media’s assets, particularly on the unscripted side.

But sources say the mood changed internally last month when ITV announced to the stock market that it was no longer bidding for All3Media, with some suggesting the company was spooked by market conditions and the ultimate value for its share price. Some in the industry have also pointed to the potential competition conflict, given the two companies’ vast production footprint in the U.K.

Citing the London Stock Exchange messaging, ITV CEO Carolyn McCall made it clear in a half-year earnings call on July 27 that the company was “no longer actively exploring” an acquisition, but that it had looked at All3Media with “great interest.”

In stepping aside, ITV has now opened the door to other bidders with different profiles.

“ITV was the only possible buyer for All3Media. Now that they’ve [pulled out], the sales process is going to start in September,” said one senior source with inside knowledge of the sale, who confirmed that All3Media’s price tag is in the €1.3 billion ($1.4 billion) range. The September start date was also confirmed by a second senior figure.

Liberty Global also confirmed during last week’s investors call that the company was “launching a broader process [to sell All3Media], which has already attracted interest from strategic and financial players on both sides of the Atlantic.” Liberty Global and All3Media declined to comment.

A bid is expected to come from French company Mediawan, which is interested in building a larger presence in English-language markets and accessing a wealth of premium content. All3Media’s U.K.-based scripted assets include Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris’ “Call the Midwife” and “1917” producer Neal Street Productions; “The Tourist” and “Fleabag” outfit Two Brothers Pictures; and “White House Farm” producer New Pictures. Mediawan, which already boasts Drama Republic in the U.K., is particularly strong in France, Germany Italy and Spain, and recently bought a majority stake in Brad Pitt’s prestige banner Plan B.

Banijay would also be a natural fit as a buyer, if only for the significant bump All3Media would provide its English-language scripted slate. Currently, scripted programming forms only around 25% of the entire Banijay slate, with the vast majority being non-English language.

The company has been transparent in changing that ratio: Banijay CEO Marco Bassetti told Variety last year that the U.K. is “the most important and expensive market.”

Evidently, Bassetti thinks the risk is worth it: in the last year alone, Banijay acquired “Chloe” producer Mam Tor Productions, took a minority stake in “Happy Valley” star James Norton’s production banner Rabbit Track, and invested in Conker Pictures, the new company set up by BBC commissioner Tommy Bulfin and Apple TV+ drama executive Kim Varvell.

Liberty Global and Discovery acquired All3Media in 2014 for £550 million ($686 million). Formed in 2003 and currently led by CEO Jane Turton, the producer has expanded from 20 labels to 50 across six countries and three continents, including the U.S., U.K. and New Zealand.

In 2021, the conglomerate boasted revenue of £866.6 million ($1.08 billion) — its largest revenue year ever. The company also has a substantial distribution arm, All3Media International, and a digital agency called Little Dot Studios.

Discovery’s merger with Warner Bros. means it no longer has a need for All3Media’s production services while Liberty, a shareholder in ITV, has expressed interest in shedding “certain assets” from its portfolio, according to a Telegraph report of the telecoms giant’s recent earnings call.

Read More About:

Source: Read Full Article