Blue Ant acquires Saloon Media

Blue Ant MediaCanadian broadcaster, producer and distributor Blue Ant Media has acquired Toronto-based factual production company Saloon Media as part of its ongoing expansion in North America. The move will see Saloon’s CEO Michael Kot, executive producers Steve Gamester and Paul Kilback, and head of production Betty Orr join Blue Ant’s global production unit. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Blue Ant has already brought NHNZ (New Zealand), Beach House Pictures (Singapore), Antenna Pictures (London), Blue Ant Digital Studios (LA), Look Mom! Productions (Toronto) and Northern Pictures (Sydney) under the unit’s control in recent years.

Saloon launched in 2013, and recent credits include the CSA-nominated series Mummies Alive for History (Canada), Smithsonian Channel (US) and Yesterday (UK). It has also worked on Tornado Hunters for CMT, coproduced See No Evil for Investigation Discovery with UK indie Arrow Media, and made Hunting Nazi Treasure for History (Canada), American Heroes Channel (US) and More4 (UK).

Sam Sniderman, Blue Ant’s EVP global production, said, ““Blue Ant Media is committed to growing its content business in both Canada and the United States. The acquisition of Saloon Media is a key step in the execution of this strategy, as their award-winning factual content and notable creative talent fit perfectly within our content growth strategy in North America.”

Canada, Toronto

Comcast outbids Fox to acquire Sky in £30BN deal

Comcast CorporationThe Comcast Corporation is to acquire Sky after an unusual blind bidding auction moderated by the UK Takeover Panel saw their offer of £17.28 per share overshadow Fox’s £15.67 rival offer, for a total of £30.6 billion in cash for the entire issued and to be issued Sky share capital. The bid has already been accepted by Sky’s independent directors and shareholders now have until 11 October to decide whether to accept the recommended offer.

The acquisition ends a two-year bidding war and follows Comcast’s unsuccessful attempt to take over Fox in June, when it lost out to Disney. Sky has 26 million customers across Europe, and has backed the production of shows for Amazon, HBO and Showtime. It’s also well known for its sports broadcasting, such as its Premier League channel. Comcast will soon have a much larger international presence in these fields.

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s group chief executive, said: “As part of a broader Comcast we believe we will be able to continue to grow and strengthen our position as Europe’s leading direct to consumer media company. Today’s outcome is down to the hard work of tens of thousands of people who have built and developed this business together over the last 30 years. Sky has never stood still, and with Comcast our momentum will only increase.”

USA, Philadelphia, PA & UK, London

 

Nine Entertainment to take over Fairfax media in estimated A$4BN deal

Nine EntertainmentAustralia’s Nine Entertainment is to take over Fairfax Media, for an estimated A$4 billion. The television network will take a controlling 51.1% stake in the newly merged company, which will be renamed NEC, or Nine Entertainment Company. Nine will acquire all of Fairfax’s shares and take a controlling 51.1% share in the new business, which will be called NEC. Under the terms of the proposed transaction, Fairfax shareholders will receive 0.3627 Nine shares for each Fairfax share held and $0.025 cash. It represents a 21.9% premium to Fairfax’s closing share price of 77c on 25 July 2018.

Hugh Marks of Nine will be the new chief executive and Peter Costello, the Nine chairman, will now lead the board of the new business.

Costello said, “Both Nine and Fairfax have played an important role in shaping the Australian media landscape over many years. The combination of our businesses and our people best positions us to deliver new opportunities and innovations for our shareholders, staff, and all Australians in the years ahead.”

Marks added, “The ground-breaking merger – harnessing the strength, assets, quality and reach of two of the country’s most famous industry brands – is another highly significant step in the evolution of Nine’s business into one of the most powerful media organisations in the country. The scope of this deal is genuinely quite breathtaking. In addition to our existing television and digital businesses, the new NEC will also become the proprietor of the iconic Fairfax mastheads as well as the new majority owner of Domain (60%) and the Macquarie Radio Network (54.5%)“.

Fairfax Chief Executive Officer Greg Hywood said, “The proposed transaction for Fairfax reflects the success of Fairfax’s transformation strategy which has created value for shareholders through targeted investment in high growth businesses, such as Domain and Stan, and prudent management of our media assets. The combination with Nine provides an exciting opportunity to continue to drive incremental value well into the future. We are confident that the strength of the combined management team and staff will ensure the continuation of our quality journalism.”

Australia, Sydney

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Entertainment One completes acquisition of Sierra Pictures

Entertainment OneEntertainment One has completed the purchase of the remaining stake in feature film production and global sales company Sierra Pictures, in which it first invested in 2015. As part of the move, Nick Meyer and Marc Schaberg have joined the company as president of film and executive VP of film and global operations, respectively. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Sierra Pictures has backed the likes of “Tully,” “American Animals,” and the upcoming adaptation of James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces.” In his new role, Meyer will oversee all film content across eOne, while remaining CEO of Sierra/Affinity, the international sales company that is wholly owned by eOne. Schaberg will also continue as COO of Sierra/Affinity in addition to taking on his new role at eOne. Sierra/Affinity will remain independently operated.

eOne’s CEo Darren Throop said, “Welcoming Sierra to eOne is an important next step in our strategy to increase our direct involvement and ownership in content. Together, we will continue to build strong relationships with high-profile creative talent domestically and abroad”.

Canada, Toronto & USA, Beverly Hills, CA

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Update: Department of Justice approves Disney bid for Fox

walt disney companyThe Department of Justice has approved the Walt Disney Company’s $71 billion bid for the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox. The government’s approval was filed in federal court on the condition that Disney, which already owns ESPN, divest all of Fox’s 22 regional sports networks, which include valuable channels like the Yankees’ YES network.

“Today’s settlement will ensure that sports programming competition is preserved in the local markets where Disney and Fox compete for cable and satellite distribution,” Makan Delrahim, the head the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said in a statement.

USA, Burbank, CA & New York, NY

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Disney increases its bid for Fox to $71.3BN

walt disney companyThe Walt Disney Company has upped its bid to acquire 21st Century Fox by 35 % to $71.3 billion, following a rival bid from the Comcast Corporation last week for $65bn (£48.6bn) in cash.

Disney has also moved from of an all-stock deal for Fox, owner of assets including X-Men film studio 20th Century Fox, and a 39% stake in Sky, to a 50/50 mix of cash and shares.

USA, Burbank, CA & New York, NY

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DLT Entertainment acquires Vera Productions

DLT EntertainmentIndependent production and distribution company DLT Entertainment has acquired production company Vera Productions. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Through the deal Vera will continue to operate as a separate company under the DLT banner but will be wholly owned by DLT Entertainment. DLT will acquire Vera’s portfolio of extensive programming, approximately 300 hours in the catalogue, with series currently represented by a number of distributors.

Vera launched in 1994, and has since produced an extensive portfolio of award-winning shows including Bremner Bird and Fortune, three series of Getting On starring Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, and Joanna Scanlan for BBC Four, four series of Alistair McGowan’s Big Impression for BBC One, six series of Mark Thomas Product and numerous Dispatches for Channel 4, including the recent President Trump’s Dirty Secrets, Politicians for Hire and How to Buy A Football Club. In addition, Vera has produced several pieces for Channel 4 News and created Big Trouble in Thailand for Bravo, and most recently produced Million Pound Jewellers for Channel 4 Arts and three episodes of Going Forward starring Jo Brand and Omid Djalili for BBC Four.

Donald Taffner Jr., President of DLT Entertainment, said, “We have had a long regard for the shows that Vera has produced […]. DLT are not in the production company aggregation business for growth and this acquisition does not signal a change in that philosophy, but welcomes Vera to the DLT family where we will provide business and financial support while Vera Productions will continue as the production entity for its programmes. It is a very exciting time.”

UK, London

Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Inc. acquires The Weather Channel

Entertainment StudiosEntertainment Studios, one of the largest independent producers and distributors of film and television with nearly 160 million aggregate subscribers across the US, has acquired The Weather Group, parent company of The Weather Channel television network and Local Now streaming service. Byron Allen, founder and owner of Entertainment Studios, purchased the Weather Group through his company, Allen Media LLC, from The Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, and Comcast/NBC Universal.

The Weather Channel is one of the largest cable television networks not owned by a major conglomerate and is the nation’s only 24-hour source of national storm coverage. Harris Poll has ranked The Weather Channel as the “TV News Brand of the Year” for eight years in a row. The network recently launched a community platform, weloveweather.tv, to create a two-way dialogue with fans.

Allen said, “The Weather Channel is one of the most trusted and extremely important cable networks, with information vitally important to the safety and protection of our lives. We welcome The Weather Channel, which has been seen in American households for nearly four decades, to our cable television networks division. The acquisition of The Weather Channel is strategic, as we begin our process of investing billions of dollars over the next five years to acquire some of the best media assets around the world.”

USA, Los Angeles, CA & Atlanta, GA

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Digital First Media acquires the Boston Herald for $11.9M

Digital First MediaDigital First Media, one of the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in the United States, has completed the acquisition of the Boston Herald for $11.9 million at an auction in which they outbid competitors GateHouse Media and Florida private equity firm Revolution Capital Group. The auction followed Herald publisher Patrick Purcell filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2017, citing declining revenue and readership.

Established in 1846 as a single two-sided sheet of news published by a group of Boston printers, the Boston Herald today has a circulation of 64,500, with an online following at BostonHerald.com.

Guy Gilmore, DFM’s chief operating officer, said, “DFM is pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of the Boston Herald through the next chapter of its storied history. The Herald is integral to the fabric of the great city of Boston”.

USA, Denver, CO & Boston, MA

Keshet acquires majority stake in Greenbird Media

Keshet InternationalKeshet International, the global production and distribution arm of Israeli media giant Keshet, has acquired a majority stake in UK production company incubator, investor and biz accelerator Greenbird Media. The deal sees Keshet up its share of Greenbird and take over BBC Worldwide’s 30% stake in the company. Further details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Greenbird, a venture from Shine TV executive Jamie Munro and Stuart Mullin from Argonon, was founded in 2012 and provides independent producers with access to innovative funding models and licensing deals to support their creative productions.

KI, known for “Homeland,” “The A Word” and “Rising Star,” will become distribution partner for Greenbird Media’s production companies and boost its roster with more entertainment and factual content, while Greenbird will continue to guide its independent producers in terms of funding and licensing deals for creative productions.

Alon Shtruzman, CEO of Keshet International, said, “Greenbird Media, with its entrepreneurial and creative culture, is the perfect match for us. We share similar philosophies and values, and by combining KI’s global footprint with Greenbird Media’s stellar team, I see limitless possibilities and accelerated growth.”

Israel, Jerusalem & UK, London