Paris-based production group Banijay has moved into Australia with the acquisition of Underbelly prodco Screentime.
The deal sees Banijay take a majority stake in the company, which also has a base in New Zealand and an associated company in Ireland. It’s the first time Banijay has owned assets in any of the three territories.
Banijay’s distribution wing, Banijay International, will now represent Screentime’s catalogue on the global market.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Screentime launched in 1996 and is best known for scripted crime series Underbelly, which has received critical acclaim and become a top international seller for current vendor DRG. It is also behind the Australian version of reality talent show Popstars, and is launching a new version of the format at Mipcom.
The deal would “give Screentime and its people access to Banijay’s international creativity and innovation (and) at the same time will provide a powerful and well-resourced distribution outlet for our programmes and formats through Banijay International,” said Screentime cofounders Bob Campbell and Des Monaghan in a statement.
The pair will continue in their roles as executive chairman and MD respectively and Capital Investment Group and Campbell will both remain with “significant” stakes.
The deal extends Banijay’s footprint to 11 territories and fulfils a company wish to have better presence in English-speaking territories. It currently owns US prodco Bunim-Murray but recently closed down Angel City Factory, while it also split with UK prodco Zig Zag.
“We have been keen to extend our presence in English speaking territories, but we knew that we needed to be patient and wait to make the right choice. Screentime’s expertise, creativity, impressive IP and attitude excite us and we believe the alignment of both our cultures will ensure a seamless and successful integration,” said Banijay’s executive VP François de Brugada.
The news comes after Banijay International this week decided to move its main office from Paris to London, with MD Karoline Spodsberg among those making the move out of mainland Europe.
Former Endemol France CEO Stephane Courbit launched Banijay in 2008. Its shareholders currently include Courbit’s LOV Group, the Agnelli family, Zodiak Media shareholder De Agostini, plus AMS Industries.