French group Banijay said Saturday it had agreed to buy Dutch-headquartered rival Endemol Shine, the creator of a slew of hit series, to create a TV production giant. Banijay, a leading creator and distributor of TV content, said in a statement it would acquire 100 percent of the equity of the Endemol Shine Group, co-owned by Walt Disney Company and funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, Inc.
A Banijay source said the deal was close to two billion euros ($2.2 billon). The combined future group will host a variety of hit series such as "Black Mirror", "Versailles", "Peaky Blinders", "Big Brother" and "MasterChef". However, before the acquisition can be finalised it will first go through regulator checks. The new group would generate about three billion euros in revenue, which would place it alongside the British rival ITV and triple the size of Banijay, ending months of speculation that it would buy the Dutch rival, a Banijay statement said. The source said the move was a "strategic operation", adding: "Afterwards, there is a huge problem of debt therefore the outfit has to be very profitable."
The source put Endemol's debt at 1.6 billion euros. "Combining the resources of these two companies will instantly strengthen our position in the global market," Marco Bassetti Banijay's Chief Executive Officer said. The French group's acquisition comes after ITV ruled out bidding for Endemol Shine last year. Endemol Shine and the French have historical ties, as Banijay's founder and president, Stephane Courbit, has long worked for the Dutch group, where he headed the French subsidiary in the 2000s.