After two years of power play, private equity firm Apollo Global Management appears poised to take control of Big Brother producer Endemol. The Dutch production company inherited billions of dollars in debt following the 2007 buyout, believed to have ballooned to $4.1 billion in 2011 before it was restructured. After the restructuring, Apollo ended up with the largest portion of Endemol debt, giving it a stake of about 30% in the company. Endemol’s owners also include the company’s co-founder John de Mol through the investment company Dasym Investment Strategies, which handles some of his money. Both Apollo and de Mol had reportedly been looking to take control of Endemol. Now it seems Apollo is succeeding. I hear there is no signed deal yet, but such an outcome appears very likely, sparking a lot of market chatter.
Apollo has had big plans for Endemol. The investment group owns American Idol parent CORE Media and shortly after emerging with the largest share in Endemol, it started contemplating combining the two TV-focused entities. (Back then, there was also a scenario of adding Peter Chernin’s Chernin Entertainment to the mix as Chernin investor Providence Equity Partners too is an Endemol lender, with Chernin and CORE president Marc Graboff eyed for top posts in the combined company.) With Apollo short of majority ownership, that plan was put on hold but will likely be revived in some form as it makes sense for Apollo to merge its marquee TV holdings Endemol and CORE for a bigger footprint. Nobody would comment, but sources within Endemol indicate that the company supports any move that would result in a sustainable capital structure.