NENT Group to sell entire unscripted business, looks for partner to fuel scripted ambitions

Niklas Ekstedt in Four Hands Menu

Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group) is to sell off the entirety of its non-scripted production and branded entertainment interests as it looks for an equity partner to help fuel its huge scripted output.

Companies affected include NENT Studios’ unscripted outfits such as Strix, Baluba, Monster Entertainment, Novemberfilm, Moskito, Rakett, Strong Productions, and Production House; branded entertainment outfit Splay One; and events firms Playroom, One Big Happy Family, and Grillifilms.

The sales process will take place during the first half of 2020, with ACF Investment Bank assisting on the sale of the non-scripted production and events companies. Stella EOC is working on the sale of the branded entertainment business Splay One, which will be conducted separately.

Anders Jensen

Investor sought for scripted push

NENT, which been rapidly ramping up its scripted orders over the past 18 months, is now looking to secure an investor for its slimmed down business.

The company said its intention “is to bring an equity partner into the scripted production business in order to contribute to the further development of the output and operations.”

NENT Studios currently comprises 32 companies in 17 countries but will now focus only on scripted drama production, including series and movies, and distribution. It has ordered 10 docuseries to date, including Four Hands Menu and English-language show The Art of Living, but the focus has been on scripted, with shows such as Swedish Dicks, Those Who Kill and Love Me.

Just yesterday, the company commissioned Swedish romantic drama series Harmonica, which has been co-created by Josephine Bornebusch.

The reorganisation, NENT said, reflected the company’s “focus on the growth potential in scripted drama and the significant synergies with its Viaplay streaming service, which is a big and growing customer of the scripted production companies.”

Late last year, TBI revealed NENT’s recently appointed chief content officer Filippa Wallestam had appointed a six-pronged senior exec team to oversee content, international co-productions and acquisitions for the company, in the latest exec reshuffle.

New-look drama structure

Viaplay premiered 21 original productions in 2019 and expects to launch more than 30 original productions in 2020, with an ambition to debut a minimum of 40 original productions per year in following years.

Those Who Kill

The new business will comprise NENT Studios’ Nordic production companies Brain Academy Nordics, Nice Drama, EPIQ and Monster Scripted; its CEE production company Paprika; NENT Studios’ UK operations including DRG and NENT Group’s joint venture with FilmNation Entertainment.

It will also include US-based scripted production company Brain Academy US and NENT Group’s investment in the LA-based prodco Picturestart. The organisation will be focused on developing a comprehensive slate of new formats and selling existing ones internationally.

NENT said its scripted production and distribution companies together account for approximately 45% of its total sales and a “significant proportion” of its profits.

Anders Jensen, NENT Group president and CEO, said: “This reorganisation reflects how important it is for us to focus even further on the opportunity we have with scripted original content, its relevance for our Viaplay streaming service and the expansion ambitions that we have for the coming years.

“We therefore have a clear ambition to grow the number of NENT Studios produced Viaplay Originals. We have also proven that these and many other shows are attractive to international media partners, who have picked up the rights for key territories around the world. We have had talks with several third parties who have expressed strong interest in investing in the exciting journey with the reorganised NENT Studios.

“Our successful non-scripted, branded entertainment and events companies primarily work with third party clients, which is why we believe that they will benefit from new owners that are more focused on these segments of the market.”

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