France’s TF1 today said its board of directors had voted to give company chief Nonce Paolini the greenlight to continue and finalize negotiations with Discovery Communications on a strategic alliance. On November 13, the companies disclosed they were in exclusive talks that could result in a significant investment by Discovery into the French media giant. Today, TF1 elaborated on the areas in which the two companies would partner and laid out some financials for the deal which is expected to close within the next few weeks.
TF1 said the two are looking to develop the future activities of Eurosport, the French conglom’s pan-European sports channel, which would see Discovery take a 20% minority interest in the Eurosport group for about $222M. Discovery would also have the option of increasing its stake to 51% after two years, at which point TF1 could exercise a put option lifting Discovery’s ownership to 100%.
A relationship between Eurosport and Discovery, “would unlock synergies and complementary capabilities, particularly at the European level, in content (sports programming, entertainment, documentaries, etc) and in development opportunities (geographical expansion, new product launches, digital rollout, etc),” TF1 said.
A Discovery-TF1 alliance would also aim to enhance the output of documentary, magazine and current affairs channels in France built around the content and brand portfolios of the two groups. Discovery would become a shareholder in some of TF1’s branded channels including Breton outlet TV Breizh, and travel channel Ushuaïa TV. It would take a 20% interest in each of the channels with the option to hike that to 49% in two years. Discovery would pay $18M for the stakes. There would also be a production element with the partners working together on factual TV programming via TF1 Production.