Almost 18 months since it floated the idea of a potential sale, Endemol Shine Group (ESG) looks set to be bought by French entertainment group Banijay.
Two sources close to the negotiations told UK newspapers The Daily Telegraph and Financial Times a deal is expected in the coming days.
ESG is owned by Disney and US private equity firm Apollo Global Management, after the former acquired a stake in the British-Dutch company through its 2018 buyout of 21st Century Fox.
In June last year, ESG hired two banks to investigate a possible sale and was estimated to be worth about US$2.5bn.
Several interested buyers came forward, including All3Media and broadcaster ITV in the UK, RTL’s FremantleMedia, US telco Liberty and Hollywood talent agency Endeavour, but withdrew because of ESG’s suggested price tag and its debt load.
But Banijay re-entered the fray recently and looks set to close the deal, potentially acquiring ESG for a reduced price of about €2bn (US$2.3bn).
The acquisition of ESG would make Banijay the biggest independent producer in the world, giving it properties such as Peaky Blinders and Big Brother.
ESG is one of the biggest indie groups in the world, with 120 prodcos under its banner in 22 markets. It boasts 4,300 formats and a catalogue of more than 63,000 hours of scripted and non-scripted programming.
ESG’s prodcos include Fifty Fathoms, Kudos, Dragonfly and Shine TV, US-based Authentic Entertainment, Shine Iberia and Metronome in the Nordics.
It also operates distribution arm Endemol Shine International and subsidiaries such as Endemol Shine Latino, Endemol Shine India, Endemol Shine Boomdog in Mexico and Endemol Shine Australia.
Neither Banijay nor Endemol Shine were commenting officially on the story today.
I'm quite surprised Disney would want to sell their stake so quickly considering they now have two content hungry platforms in the form of new Disney+ and Hulu (in which they now have a controlling interest). But then I guess Disney isn't exactly lacking in content itself.