British newspaper The Sunday Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, sibling to Endemol Shine co-owner 21st Century Fox, reports that the British commercial broadcaster has officially entered the bidding process as sale talks heat up.
In July, ITV CEO Carolyn McCall told Deadline that it would look at acquisitions but it would be “very disciplined” about purchases – Endemol Shine has been valued at between $2B and $3B. McCall told Deadline, “We’ve had a very effective strategy of diversifying away from advertising, not because we don’t like it, but because it’s a cyclical business. We have made a lot of acquisitions and have doubled the size of the [ITV Studios] business in the last five years. We are going to continue to grow organically and that we will look at M&A, although we don’t comment on specific opportunities. We will look at M&A in a very disciplined way and a very returns focused way.”
Earlier in July, Endemol Shine owners Apollo Global and 21st Century Fox hired Deutsche Bank and Liontree to advise on a sale. Other bidders are thought to include All3Media co-owner Liberty Global, ITV and Vivendi-backed Banijay. However, BBC Studios and Fremantle owner RTL have both in recent weeks ruled out bidding for the superindie.
If ITV was to acquire Endemol Shine, it would be a transformative deal for ITV and would be a major statement by McCall, who joined at the start of the year. It would bring together global formats such as ITV’s Love Island and Netflix breakout Queer Eye with Endemol Shine’s own library of entertainment hits. It would also reunite John De Mol with the company that he founded. De Mol sold The Voice producer Talpa Media to ITV in 2015. ITV Chairman Peter Bazalgette also knows the business well, having sold his own indie to the company, prior to its merger with Shine, and worked as chief creative officer and UK chairman under former owners Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica.
In April, Deadline was first to reveal the news that Endemol Shine was up for sale and that ITV was leading the pack over a deal. It will interesting to see whether a deal is done by Mipcom, where McCall is set to give a keynote address.