Talpa has entertaining bids for some time, with various sources linking Chinese companies with a deal as recently as last week.
However, stock market-listed ITV confirmed on Friday a report in UK trade Broadcast that it was in exclusive talks to buy the firm, which is behind The Voice.
Buying Talpa would be by far ITV’s largest international acquisition, which currently stands at US$360 million for US production group Leftfield Entertainment.
ITV has grown in its international business massively in the past few years, as it wants to reduce reliance on UK TV advertising and create more stable production revenues.
Internal Talpa sources suggested de Mol had rejected a £320 million (US$492 million) offer from Shine Group last year out of hand, and Talpa will likely seek to fetch more than £500 million. De Mol’s 33% stake in Dutch broadcaster SBS is not included in the deal.
One issue will be the size and shape of de Mol’s earn-out. Broadcast reported this would be a three-year agreement that also could include him signing a non-compete clause that would stop him launching another formats business soon after exiting.
Talpa’s key hit is The Voice, which runs on NBC in the US and BBC One in the UK. In all, there are around 60 local versions, with the finished tape selling around the globe. It also created social experiment format Utopia and has made local versions of entertainment show I Love My Country.
In the stock market note ITV said it was “continually assessing opportunities to grow and develop its business in line with its strategy, including the assessment of potential acquisitions”.
“ITV confirms that it is in exclusive discussions regarding an acquisition of Talpa,” it added. “These discussions may or may not result in agreement of a transaction.”
Talpa is yet to comment publicly on the news.