UPDATE at 5 PM: It’s now officially announced. Press statement below:

Paris/Los Angeles, CA (March 26, 2010) – Banijay Entertainment announced today the acquisition of Bunim-Murray Productions (BMP), one of the leading independent producers in North America.  Based in Los Angeles, BMP is widely credited as being one of the pioneers of the reality television genre with its introduction in 1992 of its hit series The Real World.

Bunim-Murray Founder, Jonathan Murray remains Chairman and will continue to foster the company’s creative development. In addition, Bunim-Murray President Gil Goldschein will continue to spearhead corporate initiatives and the tactical growth of the business. The company will continue to operate with the moniker Bunim-Murray Productions out of its offices in Los Angeles. The acquisition, which is subject to customary approvals and filings, is expected to be completed in the near future.

“Bunim-Murray is one of the few companies with a proven history of delivering high volumes of entertaining and quality programming that strikes a chord with viewers and are continually renewed by networks season after season,” said Banijay Chairman Stéphane Courbit. “This acquisition reaffirms Banijay’s strategy to integrate in our group the best and most creative international television producers”

Murray commented that “BMP is having one of its best years ever with hits on four different networks. By joining Banijay, BMP will be able to continue its past success as well as access international formats and distribute its series and formats to the international marketplace. I’ve spent the last year and a half getting to know Stéphane Courbit and his Banijay team and am convinced they are not only good people but the best people to help BMP reach its goals.”

EXCLUSIVE at 3:30 PM: I have no official confirmation of this yet, but sources tell me there’ll be an announcement soon that Bunim-Murray, the unscripted pioneers whose company still produces The Real World franchises for MTV Networks as well as Project Runway for The Weinstein Company and Lifetime and Keeping Up With The Kardashians For E! Entertainment, will be acquired by the fast-growing France-based international distribution and production company Banijay for low- to mid-8 figures. Bunim-Murray was started by Jon Murray with the late Mary-Ellis Bunim, and I know that Murray has been trying to cash out for quite some time. I hear that even though many suitors came calling, the delay has been that he doesn’t own the negatives or the formats to his shows.