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Sony seals $64m Left Bank buy-out

Sony Pictures Television (SPT) has moved into UK scripted production for the first time after taking a majority stake in Left Bank Pictures, the production company behind Wallander and Strike Back.

Left Bank Pictures now intends to focus on its international ambitions after the £40m (US$63.6m) deal was confirmed this morning.

It joins other UK prodcos within SPT such as Victory Television, Gogglebox Entertainment and Silver River, as well as Huaso in China, Brazil’s Floresta, Colombia’s Teleset and Embassy Row in the US.

The deal, which represents SPT’s first step into scripted programming in the UK, will see SPT distribute future programming from Left Bank, both finished and formats, also gaining a first-look deal on feature films produced by the company.

BBC Worldwide, which had a 25% stake in the company, has seen that halved to 12.2% as part of the SPT deal, while it will retain all back catalogue rights and rights to future series of existing properties.

Left Bank CEO Andy Harries and MD Marigo Kehoe will continue to run the company from London, while Harries now reports to Andrea Wong, SPT’s president of international production.

The pair founded the company in 2007 and they have gone on to produce the BBC version of Wallander, Strike Back for Sky1 and HBO/Cinemax, Cardinal Burns on E4 and DCI Banks on ITV.

Harries said: “This marks the start of a new phase of ambitious quality drama from us for the international market place.”

Wong said the deal for Left Bank represented the chance to match the company’s UK unscripted interests with a scripted producer.

“In the UK we have really strong unscripted companies so in Silver River, Gogglebox and Victory, we have great strength in factual entertainment, in light entertainment as well as gameshows. Left Bank is an opportunity to bring really a really strong scripted company into the group and round out our portfolio,” she said.

Speaking about buying into another UK production company, Wong added: “The great thing about the UK is it has a great culture for creativity. It has an existing vibrant, creative independent community and there’s a tradition and a legacy for commissioning original ideas rather than taking other countries’ ideas.

“The UK is the most important country for IP creation so, therefore, we want to continue to grow and strengthen our presence in this country.”

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