Speculation has been swirling around a Warner Bros acquisition of Netherlands-based TV producer Eyeworks for several weeks. Warner Bros Television Group now says it has entered into an agreement to acquire all of Eyeworks’ businesses outside the U.S., in 15 territories across Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. The purchase is an important part of WB Television Group’s growth strategy as it aims to establish a strong foothold in major TV production markets around the world. Ronald Goes, EVP and head of Warner Bros International Television Production, said today, “Eyeworks has the scale to help grow our presence in the global marketplace, as well as quality production capabilities and broadcaster relationships. I am confident that, as part of Warner Bros, it will continue to create and produce high quality content that can become franchises and be exported to create local versions in other markets around the world.” Among shows Eyeworks already makes are Celebrity Splash!, Extreme Weight Loss and Test The Nation. The company also recently signed a development deal with Fox Television Studios to jointly develop scripted programming originating from Scandinavian writers for the U.S. and international markets.
The acquisition by Warner Bros, for which financials were not provided, is subject to regulatory approval. The deal will add 13 new territories to Warner’s existing network of local production companies. Warner already has a majority stake in UK production group Shed Media and in BlazHoffski Holdingan, an indie producer that operates in The Netherlands and Belgium. Eyeworks was founded in 2001 by CEO Reinout Oerlemans. The exec will move to Los Angeles to become chairman of Eyeworks USA, leading the further expansion of that company. He will step down as CEO of the Eyeworks Group once the acquisition has been completed. European production companies have been increasingly attractive acquisitions targets in general over the last year, with ITV taking majority stakes in the UK’s Big Talk, The Garden and So Television while Modern Times Group bought Nordic outfit Nice Entertainment and FremantleMedia took controlling interest in Denmark’s Miso Film. Also, NBCUniversal owns Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films.