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eOne buys Whizz Kid stake for $9.75m

MIPTV: Transatlantic producer and distributor Entertainment One (eOne) has paid £6.9m (US$9.75m) for a controlling stake in UK unscripted producer Whizz Kid Entertainment.

Malcolm Gerrie

Whizz Kid was founded in 2006 by Malcolm Gerrie and is behind shows including Ex on the Beach, which has been adapted by eOne for MTV in the US. It has also produced the UK version of Lip Sync Battle and worked with UK broadcasters including the BBC, Sky, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5.

The deal will see eOne acquire a 70% stake in the prodco, with the £6.9m deal made up of £5m in cash and the issuance of 637,952 eOne common shares.

A distribution of excess cash held by Whizz Kid on closing is expected to result in a payment of about £1.6m to its former owners, which include Ingenious Capital Management, Gerrie, MD Lisa Chapman, Katherine Allen, Lisa McCormack, Terence Back, Tracey Lloyd, Shane Murray and Caroline Roseman.

Gerrie and Chapman will continue to lead the prodco and as part of the transaction have entered into new long-term employment agreements.

Ingenious previously looked to wind down its position in the company in 2014, having previously invested almost £1m in Whizz Kid Productions, a subsidiary of Whizz Kid Entertainment.

eOne’s deal will also see it gain distribution rights to Whizz Kid’s shows and formats, plus an option to buy the remaining 30% stake after five years. Whizz Kid’s results will be fully consolidated in eOne’s financial statements.

In its audited financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2017, Whizz Kid reported revenues of £14.2m, profit before tax of £3.3m and gross assets of £6.3m. Adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) for the period amounted to £1.6m.

Darren Throop, CEO at eOne, said the prodco “gives us a strong footing in one of the most creative markets in the world. I’m pleased to welcome Malcolm, Lisa and the Whizz Kid team to the Group, and I’m excited about how this new relationship will deliver great new series on both sides of the Atlantic.”

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