Just a few days after splashing on Germany production and distribution company Tele Munchen Group, New York-based investment firm KKR has bought German film distributor Universum from local broadcaster RTL. The two acquisitions will form part of a new German entertainment platform for KKR.
Universum has a library of more than 3,500 titles including The Hateful Eight, Vice and upcoming films Midway and Rambo 5. The home ent specialist also has a strong children’s content catalogue and has operated two SVOD channels since 2017. Bernhard zu Castell will continue to lead the label as CEO.
This is a sizeable power-grab in the country’s film and TV space by KKR, which has previously worked with local media companies such as BMG and ProSiebenSat.1 but whose biggest investments to date have been in infrastructure, energy and real estate.
The new German platform is being overseen by industry veteran Fred Kogel, former head of entertainment at ZDF and former CEO of Constantin Film. As part of the expansion, ProSiebenSat.1 executive Markus Frerker has joined the platform as COO.
Philipp Freise, Member and Head of the European Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry team at KKR, said of the acquisition, “I am proud that we have come one step closer to realizing our vision of creating something truly new and unique in the German entertainment industry. Universum ideally complements our platform, delivering tailor-made content to viewers through cinemas and homes. The extensive experience as well as marketing and sales expertise of Universum’s employees will help drive the future success of the platform. With Universum and TMG, the platform is already one of the best in the industry in many areas. We want to build on these strengths and drive its growth further.”
Fred Kogel added, “We love cinema! That’s why I’m very much looking forward to Bernhard zu Castell and his team joining the family. From the beginning, we wanted to integrate Universum, due to its expertise in home entertainment and its pioneering role in the digital transformation of this business. My gratitude goes to the RTL Group, especially to Bernd Reichart and Jörg Graf, for making this possible.”
The transaction, whose details were not disclosed, is subject to regulatory approvals but is expected to close in April 2019. KKR is making the investment from its European Fund IV.