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Sky consummates Love buy-out

UK satcaster BSkyB has confirmed it has taken a majority stake in Love Productions, producer of unscripted series such as The Great British Bake Off and Benefits Street.

Sky has acquired a 70% stake in the London-based production company, which was founded in 2004 and also has production bases in Bristol, New York and Los Angeles. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

The investment forms part of Sky’s strategy to grow its international content business with broadcasting, production and distribution assets.

Earlier this year it agreed two co-development deals, including a two-year partnership with FX networks in the US to produce comedy programming.

Love Productions will continue to operate as a distinct company under its new ownership structure, producing content for all the major UK broadcasters, Sky said. Co-founders Richard McKerrow and Anna Beattie will continue to run the company alongside the current senior management team.

Sky’s international distribution arm, Sky Vision, will become Love Productions’ distribution partner, representing all forthcoming finished programmes and formats globally. Love Productions’ current agreements with other broadcasters and distributors will remain unchanged.

One of its most popular formats, bakery competition series The Great Bake Off, has been sold internationally by distributor BBC Worldwide, while the original UK version proved so popular it was moved from BBC2 to BBC1 last year.

Last week BSkyB sold its 6.4% stake in UK commercial terrestrial broadcaster ITV to US cable giant Liberty Global for £481m (US$824m).

It has been suggested that such a sale will free up Sky to acquire Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, allowing it to create Sky Europe. The Sunday Times in the UK reported yesterday that this deal could be concluded within the next fortnight.

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