The world’s third-largest TV production company plans to have a dual listing in three to four years time, London-based RDF Media tells me. De Agostini, the Italian group which owns Zodiak Entertainment – the new owner of UK indie RDF – likes to float 49% of its businesses, creating cash for itself and shareholders.
Zodiak Entertainment should be worth between €750 million and €1 billion ($912 million to $1.2 billion), according to CEO David Frank. The new enlarged operation will have annual sales exceeding €500 million.
First priority will be getting Zodiak’s European formats into the US and UK, Frank says.
Frank saw the buyout as an opportunity for RDF to move from being a two-territory operation to an 18-territory business in one fell swoop. There is not much overlap between both companies apart from some accounting and legal functions in the UK production businesses, says Frank.
RDF’s reported £150 million ($219 million) price tag has raised eyebrows. It values RDF at about 12 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). The usual multiple for these deals is around six or eight times EBITDA.
Frank founded RDF in 1993. He then floated the company on the London Stock Market in 2005, before taking it private again last year with Dutch investor Cyrte Investments. De Agostini owned 25% of the old RDF through the Cyrte fund vehicle.
Zodiak traces its origins to Scandinavia, and owns five UK TV production companies. It already operates more than 30 production companies in 18 territories, including France, India, Italy, Russia, Scandinavia and Latin America. Lorenzo Pellicioli, CEO of De Agostini and chairman and CEO of Zodiak, will continue to serve as chairman of the new enlarged group.
Observers predict that the Zodiak/RDF buyout will trigger a new wave of consolidation within the independent TV production sector. If so it will be interesting to see whether it’s even worth attending MIPCOM in a couple of years’ time. At this rate, there will only be a handful of super-indies left.