Big Brother producer Endemol has announced a “significant step” towards financial restructuring. The Dutch TV giant was given an extension to restructure its $3.7 billion debt in December and today says agreements in principle have been reached with two-thrids of lenders. Late last year, Time Warner made an unsolicited $1.4 billion bid for the company, but Endemol put the offer on hold. Endemol spokesman Charlie Gardner tells me the focus for now is on a successful restructure and that Endemol has “a bright future as an independent company.” Still, it would not be surprising if suitors start sniffing around again once the debt issue is sorted. The official Endemol press release is below:

Endemol Group, a world leader in entertainment programming, announced today that its discussions with the Group’s lenders have reached an important milestone. A significant majority, representing more than two-thirds of lenders, have reached agreement in principle regarding a restructuring of the Group’s capital structure.

In the coming weeks, the Company and its lenders will continue discussions and work towards finalising documents for the legal implementation of a successful restructuring.

Commenting on behalf of the Management Board, Marco Bassetti, Global President, and Just Spee, Chief Financial Officer, said:

“We are delighted that the majority of our lenders have in principle agreed to the proposed commercial restructuring terms and we can now enter into the final part of the process. A solution that puts Endemol on a strong financial footing for the future is now imminent.

Without the constraints of an onerous capital structure, we will be able to pursue exciting growth initiatives and build upon the solid progress that the Group has made in 2011 as we focus on and develop the creative strategy which lies at the heart of our business.”

Endemol’s business has continued to make significant progress over the past 12 months, outperforming budget in 2011 with year on year growth of approximately 10%. This was driven by a number of factors including significant expansion in scripted programming, growth in emerging markets and the continued roll out of both new and established formats such as The Money Drop (now in over 30 countries), and Big Brother, which aired in 87 countries in 2011.