Fremantle Acquires ‘The Young Pope’ Producer Wildside

FremantleMedia announced today that it has acquired Italian production company Wildside. Under the deal, FremantleMedia will have a 62.5% holding with the opportunity to acquire the remaining shareholding in the future. Wildside is currently producing Jude Law-starrer The Young Pope, a Sky-HBO-Canal + co-production, directed by Academy Award-winner Paolo Sorrentino. Also in the cast is Diane Keaton. FremantleMedia International is distributing the title in the non-partner territories.

Founded in 2009 in Rome, Wildside was founded by producers Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani, script writers and directors Marco Martani, Fausto Brizzi and Saverio Costanzo following the merger of Wilder and Offside production companies. Wildside has since established itself as a prominent premium drama producer for both the Italian and international markets. Credits include the Italian version of TV series In Treatment as well as Saverio Costanzo’s feature Hungry Hearts, starring Adam Driver (Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens), Bernardo Bertolucci’s You and Costanzo’s The Solitude of Prime Numbers.

“This is a key strategic acquisition for FremantleMedia as we continue to strengthen our prime-time scripted presence,” FremantleMedia CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz commented. “Wildside is fast becoming one of Europe’s most sought after drama producers and will complement our existing prime-time drama businesses in the US, Germany, Scandinavia, The Netherlands, Australia and the UK. The team have an impressive track record of attracting world class creative talent and delivering award winning drama so I’m really excited that they are joining our family of production companies.”

There has been a wave of consolidation throughout Europe with acquisitions of production companies continuing at a breathless pace. In June, the company acquired Boom Supervisory Limited, the holding company of Brit TV production banner Twofour Group. Additionally, ITV also took full control of Mammoth Screen in June and closed a deal in March to acquire 100% of John De Mol’s Talpa in a deal worth an initial $530 million. In the past two years, the company has bought a string of U.S. and UK production companies, including Big Talk, The Garden and Leftfield Entertainment.

John Malone’s Liberty Global has been on its own expansionist tear, closing a deal to acquire Ireland’s TV3 in July. Liberty Global is the largest cable company in the world, with 27 million customers across 14 countries. Assets include Virgin Media, Unity Media and Ziggo. The company is looking to diversify its offering by owning more wireless assets so it can get into the quad play business, offering TV, landline phone, broadband Internet and wireless service.

It has steadily increased its presence in the UK market, buying pay-TV and broadband company Virgin Media for $24 billion in 2013 in addition to its ITV stake. The company is also currently in talks with Vodafone over an asset sharing agreement with the telco that some believe may lead to Liberty’s eventual takeover of the company. Vodafone reps have denied the talks are related to an acquisition.

Liberty Global, along with Discovery Communications, closed a deal last May to acquire production powerhouse All3Media, which in turn this March closed a deal to acquire Sam Mendes’ Neal Street Productions.

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