UPDATED: Paris-based Zodiak Entertainment has closed a deal to acquire U.K.’s RDF Media Group, creating the third largest independent TV production company in the world, behind Endemol and the RTL-owned FremantleMedia, with annual sales of more than $600 million. Zodiak’s acquisition of RDF, valued at more than $200 million, had been in the works for four months. Upon its completion, RDF CEO David Frank has been named CEO of Zodiak Entertainment. Lorenzo Pellicioli, CEO of De Agostini Group and chairman & CEO of Zodiak, will continue to serve as chairman of the combined company.
Frank stressed how complimentary the two companies’ business are. RDF has presence in the U.K. and the U.S. but has no production entities in mainland Europe. Its in-house distribution unit is focused primarily on unscripted product. Meanwhile, Zodiak’s area of operation is mainland Europe with no presence in the U.K. and the U.S. and it distributes primarily scripted product. “The overlap was minimal,” Frank said.
RDF’s U.S. outpost will now be known as RDF USA, part of the Zodiak Entertainment Group and will serve as a conduit for the Zodiak formats as they’re filtered and adapted for the US marketplace. Reflecting the fact that Zodiak is more heavily involved in scripted shows (the company’s programming mix is about 50-50 between scripted and unscripted vs. 85-15 for RDF in favor of unscripted), RDF USA plans to tap an executive or a production unit with an expertise in scripted development.
Zodiak was originally created by De Agostini through the acquisition of the Magnolia Group in Italy/Spain (2007), the Marathon Group in France (2007) and Zodiak Television (2008). RDF was founded by David Frank in 1993, floated on the London Stock Market in 2005 and was subsequently acquired in 2009 by a consortium of the RDF management team and funds managed by Cyrte Investments BV. (De Agostini took a 25% indirect stake in RDF at the time, which kick-started talks between the two sides last summer.) As a result of the deal with RDF, Zodiak is about 71% owned by De Agostini with the remaining 29% of Zodiak capital owned by Zodiak managers (including RDF managers) and funds managed by Cyrte Investments BV.