Asacha Media launched by ex-Endemol Shine & Zodiak chiefs

LR: Gaspard de Chavagnac, Marina Williams, Marc-Antoine d’Halluin

Endemol Shine Group’s former COO Marina Williams has linked up with ex-Zodiak Media France CEO Gaspard de Chavagnac and MBC chief Marc-Antoine d’Halluin to launch Asacha Media Group, a private equity-backed firm that has already taken majority stakes in three European prodcos.

Asacha will focus on non English-language scripted content and has taken majority stakes in Italian production houses Picomedia and Stand By Me, as well as French producer Mintee Studio.

Combined annual revenues for the three total €50m ($55m) and discussions are underway for further acquisitions in other key European markets, the company said.

The new outfit, described as a “multinational partnership of content creators and producers”, is being funded by private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management and the co-founders, who retain a “significant minority stake” in the business.

Asacha will be based out of Paris and will predominantly focus on the international demand for non-English language scripted content from both non-linear and traditional platforms. It will develop, package and produce scripted series and films, but also explore opportunities across reality, kids and factual genres, as well as documentaries.

Founding partners

The three co-founders – De Chavagnac, Williams and d’Halluin – have all held senior roles at production groups in recent years.

De Chavagnac was CEO of Zodiak Media Group France from 2014–2017 and MD of Fremantle in France between 2004 and 2007, and most recently founded Mintee Studio, where he continues in his role as president. He becomes co-CEO of Asacha Media Group.

Asacha Media Group is building a powerful cross-border partnership of closely-aligned talent, who will each share a stake in the overall business. This model provides us with the expertise and geographical reach needed to deliver world class content to a diversity of international platforms with wide-ranging budgets

Marina Williams, co-CEO at Asacha

Williams, who is also co-CEO at the new firm, was most recently COO of international operations at Endemol Shine Group from 2015 to 2019, overseeing the company’s operations across Central and Eastern Europe, India, the Middle East and Africa. Prior to the merger with Shine Group, Williams joined Endemol in 2008 as CEO of Central and Eastern European Operations.

D’Halluin is currently CEO of MBC Group in the Middle East and was formerly CEO of Zodiak Media Group. He takes a non-executive role as vice chairman of the company’s supervisory board.

Acquisitions & operations

The new firm’s existing portfolio consists of Picomedia, Stand by Me and Mintee Studios, with the three companies’ senior execs involved in the senior management team at Asacha.

Picomedia was founded in 2010 and is led by Italian former CEO of FremantleMedia Italy, Roberto Sessa, who will remain in charge of the company and joins Asacha’s supervisory board. The prodco has been behind shows including Escape From The Mafia, Music Of Silence and Beyond The Sea for Italian pubcaster RAI.

Stand By Me, founded by Italian screenwriter, director and producer Simona Ercolani, has produced kids live action series Sara & Marti for Disney Channel Italy as well as reality series High Infidelity for Discovery and docuseries Kids Of Bambino Gesù for RAI.

Ercolani will serve as group chief creative officer for entertainment, factual & kids at Amacha and will also continue to lead Stand By Me as CEO and creative director. Stand By Me stakeholders, Francesco Nespega and Giuliano Tranquilli, will also become shareholders of Asacha Media Group, along with Ercolani.

Finally, scripted-focused Mintee Studio is led by De Chavagnac alongside French film and drama producers Jacques Salles and Floriane Cortes. The company was founded in 2017 and has more than 25 projects in development, with titles due to be announced soon for global platforms and major French networks, Amacha said.

All founding partners and acquired production companies’ founders are also investing in Asacha, next to Oaktree.

Beyond The Sea

European & MENA focus

Asacha said it plans to operate across the EMEA region, with a core focus on France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Central and Eastern Europe. The company will also do business in further territories such as the UK, the Nordics, the Middle East and Turkey.

The company is in negotiations to acquire additional production companies “in major markets across the EMEA region,” it added, with further details to be announced.

Asacha added that it will “pursue ambitious growth through joint ventures and start-ups across its key markets, as well as organically building its IP creation, packaging and production business.”

“Asacha Media Group’s aim is to become an international leader in content creation and production with the financial support and business development expertise of Oaktree. We are launching with three first-rate companies that have proven track records and exceptional talent, and we have the resources to quickly expand our international footprint,”: said De Chavagnac.

Williams added: “Asacha Media Group is building a powerful cross-border partnership of closely-aligned talent, who will each share a stake in the overall business. This model provides us with the expertise and geographical reach needed to deliver world class content to a diversity of international platforms with wide-ranging budgets.”

Vincent Catherine and Hugo D’Avout, MD’s at Oaktree, said they were “committed to the strategy and vision of the business” despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“During these challenging times, we have been impressed by the skills and experience of Asacha’s founding partners as well as the talent leading Picomedia, Stand by Me and Mintee Studio, all of whom have exceptional track records in content creation and production.

“Given the strength of its expertise in the market, Asacha Media Group is well positioned to meet the ever growing demand for premium content in the European market.”

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