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Korea’s CJ ENM buys European distributor Eccho Rights

South Korea’s CJ ENM has acquired European distributor Eccho Rights as part of a major international expansion.

The business has taken a majority stake in the Stockholm-headquartered distributor, which has offices in Istanbul, Madrid, Seoul and Manilla, and is best known for a robust slate of Turkish content.

The move comes as CJ ENM looks to expand in key markets in Europe, the Middle East and LatAm. The acquisition will strengthen the South Korean’s format business, as well as its content sales and distribution as it looks to expand Eccho IP.

In addition to Turkish content, Eccho’s drama slate includes programming from Western Europe, as well Russia, India and Korea. The business has picked up a number of CJ ENM scripts in the past.

Under the deal, Eccho will remain an independent entity under CJ ENM, with its existing management still in place. It will continue working with third-party producers. CJ ENM’s Turkish operation, CJ Entertaiment Turkey, will continue working in the theatrical distribution and feature film space, while Eccho Rights is to focus on TV.

The acquisition reflects an increasingly competitive environment that is seeing a consolidation of distribution entities, with mid-sized, boutique distributors such as Eccho Rights particularly feeling the crunch as it goes up against mega-distributors with access to vast production networks and pipeline.

Chul-yeon Kim, SVP of CJ ENM’s global business, said: “The merger will create exceptional value for both sides to consolidate our global presence. This will substantially enable us to leverage our premium content to reach worldwide audiences offering unique experiences and enjoyment.”

Fredrik af Malmborg, MD of Eccho Rights, added: “CJ ENM is the ideal partner for Eccho Rights in our ambition to build on our business models in television drama for the future. Our experience in the Turkish and Western Drama market creates a very solid link to Korea and the rest of Asia. To be a part of CJ ENM will enable us to grow and to develop an even stronger offering to TV producers worldwide.”