German studio Leonine has struck a deal to acquire Wiedemann & Berg TV (W&B TV), the Endemol Shine Group-owned company behind Netflix drama hit Dark.
The prodco, founded by Quirin Berg and Max Wiedemann in 2009 in partnership with Endemol, will become part of the Leonine Production division, which already houses Wiedemann & Berg Film. Leonine acquired the movie outfit in April.
Berg and Wiedemann will remain managing directors of both companies and gain additional remits at Leonine. Berg will become chief creative and chief production officer for the German firm, responsible for the creative direction of the group and working with Wiedemann to manage all fiction output across cinema, TV and co-productions.
Wiedemann becomes chief business development officer, with a remit for the development of new business areas and their integration.
Berg and Wiedemann have sold their stakes in both their TV and film companies, but will become stakeholders in Leonine. The company’s CEO, Fred Kogel, will continue to be responsible for non-fiction/entertainment production.
Wiedemann and Berg founded their film outfit in 2003, producing features including the Academy Award-winning The Lives of Others, while the TV arm was behind the first German pay-TV series for TNT/Turner and also produced drama 4 Blocks.
Dark, meanwhile, marked the the first German Netflix original, while the company was also behind Pagan Peak for Sky. Another Netflix original, Tribes Of Europa, is in production.
The deal for W&B TV, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed in early 2020. Endemol Shine, which is in the process of being acquired by Banijay, will now launch a new Berlin-based drama outfit headed by former W&B TV managing director Nanni Erben.
Kogel said: “We are delighted that, following the acquisition of Wiedemann & Berg Film, we have now succeeded in acquiring W&B TV. In doing so we have integrated two of the most innovative and successful production companies in Germany into Leonine and we have completed the management board with Quirin and Max.”
Leonine is the fast-growing German media group backed by US investor KKR, which includes Tele München Group, Universum Film, Universum and i&u TV, and has a catalogue of more than 7,000 titles including Sanctuary and feature film Moonfall.
Philipp Freise, co-head of KKR’s private equity business in Europe, added: “With the acquisition of W&B TV, we have completed Leonine’s foundation. There is hardly any other German media company with a comparable position in the production business. On this basis, Leonine will not only be able to grow successfully in this disruptive environment, but also actively shape this market.”
In a statement, Berg and Wiedemann said: “We have been producers and entrepreneurs for 20 years and have long dreamed of a German studio that offers film production, theatrical distribution, television production, licensing and entertainment.
“With Leonine, this idea is now becoming reality. Fred is an outstanding CEO and we are very happy about the quality and dimension of the partnership with him, Philipp Schaelli, KKR, a fantastic team and many great creative people. The constant development of our ideas and possibilities has always been an essential force for us and we are now happy to be able to shape this exciting and challenging era together.”