Banijay and Zodiak merger confirmed

The merger between production and distribution firms Banijay Group and Zodiak Media is going ahead.

Marco-BassettiThe pair have been locked in talks for weeks and have now confirmed the deal will go ahead. This creates one of the biggest content companies in the world not owned by a larger media group, with extensive operations across Europe, the UK and the US.

The new group will have combined revenues of US$1 billion, and a huge distribution catalogue that will go out via a new sales arm.

Banijay founder Stéphane Courbit will be chairman of the new business and Marco Bassetti (pictured) will be appointed CEO.

The deal is expected to close in about three months after which Zodiak Media boss Marc-Antoine d’Halluin (pictured) will exit, TBI understands.

The new group will have a footprint in more than 18 territories and produce and distribute entertainment, drama, factual, reality entertainment, docu-drama, children’s and animation programming.

Banijay owns production groups Nordisk Film TV, Banijay Studios North America, Bunim-Murray Air Producions, Banijay Productions France, H2O Productions, Brainpool, Pineapple Entertainment, Curazo-DLO Producciones, NonPanic, Aurora TV, Ambra Banijay Italia, Screentime, Stephen David Entertainment, Banijay Finland and Respirator.

The firm was created in 2008 by a group led by former Endemol France boss Courbit. Its shareholders include the De Agostini family, who are also majority owners of Zodiak and were considered to be a key factor in the union of the two firms.

Merging with Zodak gives it a foothold back in the UK market, where it previously owned Zig Zag Productions. However, that partnership went sour and Zig Zag was sold back to its management.

Marc-Antoine d halluinFor Zodiak, the merger would come around five years after it came together with UK production giant RDF Media to form the group as it currently exists. It’s understood the company has been wrestling with a large debt pile due to the high number of acquisitions it made to create group scale.

Zodiak’s global production groups are Zodiak Americas (comprising Zodiak Latino, Zodiak LA and Zodiak New York), Zodiak France (Zodiak Fiction, GTV, ALP, KM Productions, Mona Lisa), Zodiak Kids (Marathon Media, Tele Images Productions, The Foundation), Zodiak MEAA (Sol Production), Zodiak Nordic (Jarowskij, Mastiff Denmark, Mastiff Norway, Mastiff Sweden, Yellow Bird, Zodiak Finland, Zodiak Russia (Mastiff Russia, TeleAlliance) and Zodiak Southern Europe (Magnolia Spain, Magnolia Italy, Zodiak Active).

The London-headquartered company also runs Zodiak UK, Belgium & Netherlands, which comprises Bwark Productions, IWC Media, Red House, Bookhouse, RDF Television, RDF Television West, The Comedy Unit, Touchpaper Television, Zodiak Belgium and Zodiak Nederland. The firm also has a large sales unit, Zodiak Rights.

The deal is latest in a long line of mega-mergers in the global television market includes 21st Century Fox and Apollo Global Management brnging together Endemol, Shine Group and Core Media Group. UK broadcaster ITV has added Leftfield Entertainment, TwoFour Group and Talpa Media to its ranks as it builds global scale, while Discovery Communications and Liberty Global partnered to buy All3Media.

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