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CEE production company Paprika Studios exits Viaplay through management buyout

CEE-based production company Paprika Studios is being bought out from its current owner Viaplay Group by a management team led by CEO Ákos Erdős.

Ákos Erdős

The current management team led by Erdős has successfully closed the acquisition of the Budapest-based firm and will now plan further cooperation with international streaming providers in addition to its TV collaborations.

Paprika Studios became part of the Modern Times Group in 2012 which later became Viaplay. However during a troubled 2023 Viaplay announced it was offloading Paprika as it aimed to raise SEK4bn (US$380m) in new equity, write down SEK2bn in debt and renegotiate the terms of a debt totalling SEK14.6bn.

Viaplay has been downsizing its footprint and original scripted ambitions to focus on its Nordic and Netherlands operations as part of a new business strategy and to refocus its content offering on premium sports, acquired films and series, and local non-scripted productions.

After considering several options, Viaplay Group decided to accept a purchase offer for Paprika Studios from the latter’s management team. The offer was subject to approval by Viaplay Group’s shareholders, which was received on January 10, and the transaction closed on January 19.

Following the buy-out Paprika has already initiated negotiations to open new branches in addition to its eight-country operating footprint.

The company’s content is already available across CEE on Netflix, HBO Max, Czech Voyo, Channel 5 UK, Romanian Pro TV, Pop TV Slovenia, Czech TV Nova , Lithuanian public broadcast television, Slovak Markiza, Hungarian RTL and TV2 Group and AXN among others.

Erdős said: “The change of ownership will open new market opportunities for Paprika Studios. Furthermore, in addition to continuing our collaborations with several market-leading broadcasters, we will be able to deepen our partnerships with other international streaming providers. Our business strategy has always been based on the production of quality content, whether it is entertainment, fiction or reality productions, movie productions, or short films. This professionalism and commitment will be even stronger with the arrival of the management team as owners.”

Enrique Patrickson, Viaplay Group exec VP, CFO and head of strategy and M&A, added: “We are pleased to close this transaction, which is in line with Viaplay Group’s business strategy. The offer from Paprika’s management created the most value for Viaplay Group’s shareholders and made a swift process possible. We wish Ákos and his team all the best as they take Paprika Studios forward as an independent company.”

Paprika Studios has been in business for almost two decades, produced almost 600 hours of entertainment content in 12 different languages in 2023. It has produced formats including Survivor, The Voice, X-Factor, Paradise Hotel, Dancing with the Stars, Traitors, The Teacher, Neighbor’s Cow, Fish on the Cake, The Bridge, Land of the Brave, Farmer Wants a Wife, Tiger Daddy, I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Love Island, Power Couple and many more.

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