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France’s Canal+ takes majority stake in channels outfit SPI International

French pay TV operator Canal+ is acquiring a 70% stake in Europe-based channels operator SPI International.

Maxime Saada

SPI, a media company operating 42 TV channels and multiple digital products across six continents, will become part of the Canal+ Group.

SPI’s founder Loni Farhi and CEO Berk Uziyel will continue to manage and develop SPI’s business with the support of their executive committee.

In a joint statement, the pair said: “Canal+ and SPI share a common vision for continuous growth and a strong international presence. We have been strategic partners for years, where we have built a great tradition of collaborations and achieving mutual goals. Now we will have the chance to join forces under one roof. SPI will further accelerate its growth with Canal+ while leveraging natural synergies.”

SPI was founded 28 years ago and operates free-to-air and pay TV channels in Central and Eastern Europe, Western Europe, CIS and the former Yugoslavia region, including markets such as Poland, Czechia, Romania, Serbia, the Netherlands and Russia. Its channels portfolio includes FilmBox, Film1, Kino Polska, Stopklatka and Dizi along with different thematic channels and streaming services.

The company recently launched a new digital service, Dizi, a global aggregator of Turkish series. SPI also owns and operates the brand assets of Film1 premium movie services in the Netherlands, including four linear channels and an on-demand service.

The purchase continues Canal+ expansion outside France and follows the Vivendi-owned company’s buy-out of CEE-focused pay TV operator M7 Group for US$1.2bn in 2019.

Maxime Saada, CEO of Canal+ Group, said: “The acquisition of SPI International is part of the strategy we have been implementing for several years. Canal+ currently has 22 million subscribers in more than 40 countries, including 15 in Europe. We have set ourselves the goal of reaching a minimum of 30 million subscribers by 2025 and SPI International will certainly be a key asset in achieving this ambition.”

Jacques du Puy, CEO of Canal+ International, added: “This acquisition marks a new strategic step for the development of our European contents. It will be a great opportunity to develop new synergies and businesses for our activities, especially in the Polish market and in the Central and Eastern European countries where Canal+ operates through M7 brands.”

The deal is subject to regulatory approval and financial terms were not disclosed.

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