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Argonon makes Transparent acquisition

TransparentUK-based production group Argonon has bought indie factual prodco Transparent Television – its first acquisition since launching two years ago.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, means London-based Transparent is now part of a stable of Argonon production companies that also includes Leopard Films, Leopard Films USA, Leopardrama, Remedy Productions and Remedy Canada and joint venture Britespark Films.

Transparent is best known for popular factual programming such as Channel 4’s My Daughter Amy and Channel 5’s Extraordinary People: the Baby with a New Face and formats such as BBC2’s Restoration Roadshow. It is currently working on two series for C5, Great Northern Cookbook and Botched Up Bodies.

The company’s programming has also sold internationally to the likes of Fox in Germany, Sky Italia, Australia’s Network Seven and SBS and TLC, National Geographic Channel and Ovation in the US.

Transparent’s founders Jazz Gowan and Richard Hughes (pictured) now become shareholders in Argonon, which launched in 2011 upon the merger of Leopard and Remedy.

Transparent is now based at Argonon’s London base and plans are afoot for the company to launch in the US through Argonon’s New York office.

Argonon CEO James Burstall said Transparent’s popular factual credentials meant it was a “perfect fit” for Argonon.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates our strategic ambition for the group; to build a world-class centre of excellence where the industry finest talents are given a platform to fulfill their creative ambitions. Our unique business model offers Transparent a stake in the future of the group, and creative licence to build on their considerable successes, both in the UK and international markets,” he added.

Speaking with TBI this morning, Burstall said another draw had been Transparent’s content library and that programming would begin coming under the Argonon International umbrella within the next six months once existing distribution deals with the likes of DRG and Passion Distribution expire. Argonon International currently has a library of about 2,000 hours.

Transparent’s joint MD Hughes said his company had worked closely with Burstall over the past year to confirm selling up was the right move.

“What really appealed was the unique collaborative spirit within the group and the many exciting opportunities for us to grow and take Transparent to the next level. We strongly believe that Argonon is the perfect fit as it will enable us to retain the independent creative edge at the core of our business,” he added.

Argonon came close to acquiring another UK indie, Spun Gold, last year but the deal fell apart just before the due diligence stage. Today’s news therefore represents the first major production capture for the group.

Argonon’s acquisition plans are not yet over, however, having recently hired Laura Bessell-Martin to drive strategic acquisitions and IP exploitation. It also launched Britespark with former Cineflix docs chief Nick Godwin in January and this month put its innovative digital project CashInTheAttic.com live in the UK.

Burstall today said Argonon was in “advanced due diligence” with another company, and was in “advanced talks with another unnamed firm”.

“We’re still very much in the investment phase. We always said the first three-and-a-half years would be an investment period, so we anticipate further acquisitions, joint ventures and talent partnerships,” he added.

Read TBI’s full interview with Argonon CEO James Burstall here