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Discovery, Liberty to buy All3

US media giants Discovery Communications and Liberty Global have reportedly paired up to acquire European production and distribution outfit All3Media for US$933m.

The two companies have agreed a deal with London-based All3’s owner, private equity group Permira, and will announce the deal tomorrow, according to Sky News.

Discovery was linked to a bid last week after C21 revealed earlier this year that All3 was up for sale again and in talks with FremantleMedia.

Fremantle had been granted a period of exclusivity with Permira to acquire the super-indie. However, that has since lapsed, allowing Discovery and Liberty to step in.

All3Media previously put itself up for sale in 2011 for a reported £750m (US$1.2bn)-plus but ended the process when bids fell short.

The firm counts Company Pictures, Maverick TV, Objective Productions, Lion Television, Optomen and Studio Lambert, as well as distribution arm All3Media International, among its assets.

A bid from Discovery fits with its aggressive international expansion strategy but would represent a significantly bigger deal than those for previous acquisitions Raw TV and Betty, both of them UK indies.

Discovery was also the favourite to acquire UK terrestrial Channel 5 from Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, but Viacom ended up acquiring the broadcaster last week for US$759m.

The company has been busy investing in broadcasters across Europe, including SBS and Eurosport.

Discovery claims to be the world’s number one pay TV programmer, reaching 2.5 billion cumulative subscribers in more than 220 countries and territories.

Liberty Global, meanwhile, describes itself as the largest international cable company in the world and has operations in 14 countries, including Virgin Media in the UK. The firm has, however, recently signaled its apparent exit from the content business with the sale of Chellomedia to AMC Networks.

Representatives from Discovery and All3 were unavailable. A spokesman for Liberty Global declined to comment.

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