MBO for Nordic World

Formats-logo-460_2espen_husebyEspen Huseby has completed a management buy-out of Scandinavian distributor Nordic World for an undisclosed amount.

This hands Huseby 100% of the Oslo-based business, which turns over around €3 million (US$3.3 million) and has a portfolio of around 600 titles.

“Nordic World has been at the centre of my life – professional and personal – for the last eight years, so when TV2 came to me with this proposal, I knew immediately it was too good an opportunity to miss,” said Huseby, Nordic World’s CEO.

Previous owner TV2, the Norwegian broadcaster, wants to focus more directly on its broadcasting business, and could not commit to investing in third-party content as it moves to divest €38 million worth of non-core operations over the next three years.

“In response to market dynamics, TV2’s focus has changed over the past decade and owning a distribution company is no longer a primary activity. However, the export of content remains an important revenue stream, and Nordic World, with its first-look agreement with TV2, is positioned to be an important player in generating this,” said Trond Håndlykken Kvernstrøm, director of channels and programming at TV2.

The network’s programming will remain with Nordic World, with an exclusive first-look deal in place, similar to agreement with another former part-owner, Sweden’s TV4.

Huseby is currently in talks with a number of companies in the US and the UK who are “interested in participating in the future growth” of the firm though this will not be in the shape of an equity stake. “These are media, production and distribution firms who know our business; I’m not interested in VC money,” he told TBI.

“I have to find a partner who will work with me to bring the company to the next level,” he said, adding this could be on a project-by-project basis. A deal could be in place before MIPCOM in October, it is understood.

Huseby said he planned to focus more closely on international drama, and would be looking at investing in European coproductions. “But non-scripted will also remain an important part of the business,” he added.

A new board is also being recruited, with an announcement expected in coming weeks.

The move brings to an end a uncertain period for Nordic World, which went on the block in November last year. Despite having built up a sizeable catalogue and scoring deals with the likes of the UK’s Boxatricks, it was rocked when Dutch subsidiary Absolutely Independent was forced to file for bankruptcy.

This had come after TV4 pulled out of the business for similarly cost-saving reasons TV2 has given for exiting as an equity shareholder.

The company was established in 2005 with a platform to export Nordic programming to the international market.