Mediawan strikes new deals as demand spikes for TV shows

Three prominent French media investors are accelerating their efforts to build a European leader in television content production, unveiling two new acquisitions and a partnership with a KKR-backed studio in Germany on Monday.

The trio of telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel, investment banker Matthieu Pigasse and television executive Pierre-Antoine Capton founded their company, called Mediawan, in 2015 as a special-purpose acquisition vehicle listed on the Paris stock market.

Since then Mediawan has bought up 23 companies that produce scripted TV shows such as Call My Agent and Inspector Montalbano. Acquisitions include Groupe AB, a French broadcasting group that produces, distributes and aggregates TV content.

Mediawan reached €338m in sales last year but generated only about €500,000 in net profit, according to its annual report.

The company has benefited from booming demand for scripted TV shows from on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, which need large volumes of content to satisfy their growing ranks of global viewers. But the rise of the platforms with their big production budgets has also made it more difficult for smaller independent content creators to keep up, creating an opportunity for companies such as Mediawan to consolidate the sector.

For its next phase of development, Mediawan said it had submitted a binding offer to Lagardère to buy its TV production unit, known as Lagardère Studios, for “up to €100m”. It is present in France, Spain, Finland and the Netherlands and has helped produce shows such as the Paris-based jazz drama The Eddy on Netflix.

Separately, Mediawan has also agreed to buy Good Mood, a Spanish TV producer, for an unspecified price.

In addition to these deals, the trio, who together own 19.75 per cent of Mediawan, unveiled a broader overhaul on Monday to set the stage for the next round of dealmaking. They plan to create a new company called Mediawan Alliance, which will team up with KKR and the French insurer MACSF, owner of around 7.8 per cent of the shares, to launch a tender offer on the remaining 73 per cent that they do not already own.

The tender offer on the Mediawan shares and warrants will be submitted to France’s stock market regulator AMF in early July, the company said. Mediawan shareholders would receive €12 per share if they choose to sell, compared to the Friday closing price of €8.43. Warrant holders would receive €0.65.

The newly formed Mediawan Alliance would also receive a minority stake in KKR’s Leonine, a leading German independent company in content production, distribution and licensing. Leonine has been buying up smaller German TV producers in recent years, executing a similar strategy to Mediawan. Now the French and German companies will team up on “many co-production projects”.

“This is a big bang to create a European champion in content,” said Mr Pigasse in an interview. “We are already the number one in scripted TV content in France and Italy, and now we will be partnering with the leader in Germany, Leonine.”

Mr Niel said: “This series of deals we are announcing will roughly double the size of the company. We are very proud to base this new company in France and create a leader in TV production based here.”