The companies say that the deal will create “a leading global multi-platform content provider,” to be run by former BSkyB Managing Director of Content Sophie Turner Laing. She’ll manage a 50-50 partnership between Fox and private equity firm Apollo Global Management that’s built from the three TV production companies that they’ve controlled — with shows that include American Idol, Big Brother, and MasterChef. It has operations in more than 30 markets, with more than 600 scripted and non-scripted formats, as well as digital, gaming, and distribution operations. The companies acknowledged in May that they were considering such a deal to create a so-called mega-indie, similar to the one Discovery and Liberty Global recently created with their acquisition of All3Media. At one point there was talk about adding Peter Chernin’s Chernin Entertainment to the mix with Fox and Apollo.
The companies didn’t disclose financial terms for the joint venture, although Endemol, Shine and Core will continue to operate as separate companies– with Core also maintaining its own capital structure. Endemol CEO Just Spee, and Shine Group CEO Alex Mahon will stay for “an extended period” to work on the transition, and will leave in 2015 “to pursue new opportunities.” But Elisabeth Murdoch will step down as Non-Executive Chairman of Shine Group as soon as the deal closes, expected by year-end. “As Shine enters this new chapter with new partners, it is the right time for me to take the final step back from the company I love,” says Murdoch, daughter of CEO Rupert Murdoch.
Today’s agreement “advances our strategy of accelerating 21st Century Fox’s growth in worldwide television production,” Fox COO Chase Carey says.
Rupert Murdoch has a long history of deals with Apollo founder Leon Black. In the 1970s he ran Drexel Burnham Lambert’s cable TV business, and helped to sell the Metromedia TV station group to Murdoch, giving him the foundation to launch the Fox network. Apollo bought Core Media, which owns the Idol franchise, in 2011.