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NENT to sell UK business

Doc Martin is on the NENT Studios UK distribution slate

Nordic Entertainment (NENT) Group is seeking buyers for its NENT Studios UK production and distribution arm, which was formed as part of a company restructure just over a year ago.

The firm has been trying to sell its unscripted, branded entertainment and events businesses since the start of 2020 as it switches focus to expanding its Viaplay streaming service and its drama production activity.

This morning it announced it was adding NENT Studios UK to the businesses it was looking to divest, with the arm’s CEO Richard Halliwell involved in a sales process that currently has expressions of interest from 20 UK and international businesses.

NENT Studios UK was formed in September 2019 as part of a widespread company restructure of its London-based distributor DRG as well as its UK production entities.

Halliwell, who was CEO of DRG, initially stepped up to MD of NENT Studios UK. He then became CEO following the exit of Jakob Mejlhede Andersen.

NENT Studios UK’s first original drama series, Close to Me (commissioned by Viaplay and being brought to the UK as an acquired coproduction by Channel 4), starring Connie Nielsen and Christopher Eccleston, is currently in production, while a second scripted series with a UK-led greenlight will be announced shortly.

The company also has 15 shows in paid development with broadcasters and an internal development slate of around 40 projects.

This year, the business has announced new partnerships with companies such as Dopamine in Mexico and Crackit Productions in the UK, coproducing Close to Me with the former and acquiring 40 hours of factual content from the latter.

Its distribution catalogue includes scripted titles such as Doc Martin and The Cry, factual content such as Yorkshire Vet and My Grandparents’ War and international formats ranging from The Farm to Don’t Tell the Bride.

Halliwell said: “Despite the ongoing challenges the industry is facing with Covid-19, we have entered into and remained in production on Close to Me and are about to greenlight a second series that has been developed and fully financed during the pandemic.

“Our strategy of sitting at the very heart of content development and creation has been more than validated this year, and as these shows deliver, our approach will prove beneficial both to our partners and our business.

“I am very proud of my team, who have continuously found, developed, funded, produced, acquired and sold a wide range of scripted and unscripted content through these very uncertain times. Our focus now is on finding a new owner or investment partner to support our high ambitions and exciting plans for growth.

“We have a bright future as we move into 2021 and will use this period of change as a fresh opportunity to reinforce our position as a robust, innovative and vital player in the international content landscape.”

NENT Group’s remaining studios operations will focus on delivering content solely for Viaplay, while a new owner for NENT Studios UK means this business can continue to serve the global market, the company said this morning.

Following the sale, NENT Group will retain the NENT Studios UK name, meaning a second rebrand in as many years for the company under its new owner.

Earlier this month NENT revealed plans for the global expansion of its Viaplay streamer, with launches planned in Poland and the US as soon as next year.

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