ITV has withdrawn from the race, leaving French TV group Banijay and Endeavor among the final players in the market for one of Europe’s biggest content creators, according to the FT. MasterChef, Black Mirror and The Fall outfit Endemol is co-owned by 21st Century Fox and private-equity fund Apollo Global Management.
Bids have been received and are being evaluated, according to one source with familiar with the bidding process.
Sony, FremantleMedia and Liberty Global reportedly were among interested parties since it went on the block earlier this year. Endeavor had been pursuing the asset, but not aggressively, according to a person with knowledge of the bidding process.
Survivor, Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Versailles firm Banijay is now reported to be in pole position to buy Endemol. It helps that the firm is run by Marco Bassetti, the former CEO of Endemol Italy.
Banijay is controlled by Stéphane Courbit’s LOV Group and De Agostini Group’s DeA Communications. Acquisitive French media titan Vivendi also holds a large stake and would be a driving force in any deal.
The scramble for Netherlands-based Endemol comes as U.S. giants look to increase their Euro footprint. Comcast’s £30B play for Sky is the most notable example of major content corps seeking to bolster their ranks in competition with the likes of Netflix and tech incomer Apple.
Endemol immediately would provide global reach for whomever acquires it. As the largest independent production company in the world, it boasts production facilities in 23 countries and a strong collection of scripted and non-scripted content (it currently has more than 800 shows airing on more than 287 channels around the globe).
Should Banijay come out on top, however, it would be a sign that Europe is not entirely opening its doors to American suitors. Others familiar with the negotiations say the asset has become over-priced, driving away prospective bidders.
Banijay’s revenue for the financial year ending in December 2017 was €846.6M ($974M). Endemol Shine’s operating revenue in 2017 was €1.84B ($2.12B). Endemol, Banijay and Endeavor were no comment. Fox also declined comment, and Apollo did not respond to Deadline’s request for comment.