UPDATE 1-French Banijay buys 'Black Mirror' producer Endemol

PARIS (Reuters) – French media company Banijay said on Saturday it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the equity of Endemol Shine, the production house behind global television hits such as “The Voice” and “Black Mirror”.

The company did not release financial details of the deal, but a source familiar with the situation said the transaction was worth about 2 billion euros.

Banijay said in a statement that total pro-forma 2019 revenue of the combined group will be about 3 billion euros. This would make it bigger than British rival ITV (ITV.L).

The deal ends a bumpy, months-long race to find a buyer for the Netherlands-based Endemol Shine Group, which is co-owned by The Walt Disney Company (DIS.N) and private equity group Apollo Global Management, Inc. (APO.N).

Upon completion of the acquisition, Banijay will own almost 200 production companies in 23 countries and territories. Besides the popular science fiction series “Black Mirror” its combined catalogue is expected to include brands and formats such as “Peaky Blinders”, “Big Brother”, “MasterChef”, “Survivor”, “Temptation Island” and “Wife Swap”.

Endemol was put up for sale in July 2018 with a price tag of 2.5 billion euros-3 billion euros ($2.78 billion-$3.34 billion). It drew interest from several bidders at the time though the pool of suitors eventually shrank, with European broadcaster RTL Group (RRTL.DE) walking away in August 2018.

The acquisition will be financed through a Banijay capital increase and the refinancing of Banijay and Endemol’s existing debt, supported by Deutsche Bank, Natixis and Société Générale.

Post-closing, the combined group will be held by LDH (67.1%) and French media conglomerate Vivendi (VIV.PA) (32.9%).

LDH is a holding company controlled by Financière LOV (52%), Banijay founder Stephane Courbit’s investment arm. Other LDH shareholders are Italian group De Agostini with 36% of the capital, and Fimalac, the investment company of French investor Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, which will own 12% of the capital.

Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Alison Williams and Frances Kerry

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