Australia- and UK-based distributor and producer Beyond International (BYI) has continued its expansion by striking a deal to acquire Seven Studios UK (SSUK) from Seven West Media (SWM).
Beyond, which bought UK-based TCB Media Rights in April, has also acquired the remaining 50.98% of shares in LA-based 7Beyond Media Rights (7Beyond) that it did not previously own from Seven Network.
The deals have gone through BYI’s Irish subsidiary Beyond Entertainment Ltd (BEL), with both businesses set to be re-branded as Beyond Productions, with staff reporting into John Luscombe, Beyond Productions’ GM and EVP.
Beyond’s UK & US expansion
SSUK is headed by former BBC Studios exec Damon Pattison, who joined last year, and is currently producing an 8 x 60-minute primetime series of Pooch Perfect for BBC One. The format, which was created by the SSUK team, has already been produced for the Seven Network in Australia, with other versions in advanced development.
The SSUK team was also recently commissioned to film a two-part pilot series of My Lottery Dream Home International, a 7Beyond original format, for HGTV in the US. Pattison will continue to work with head of development Nikki Pinkus and head of production, Claire Browne.
The LA-based 7Beyond joint venture was established in November 2013 and is currently in production on the 11th season of My Lottery Dream Home, having also produced Tiny Food Fight for Facebook Watch and Hip Hop Houdini for Fuse.
The 7B team will combine with Beyond’s existing LA-based production unit and, following a re-brand to Beyond Productions, will be “business as usual”, the company said.
Seven West woes
The deal follows months of turmoil for Seven West Media, which is home to Australian platforms including Seven Network, 7TWO and 7mate. Its stock has fallen over recent years and last week the company fell out of Australia’s ASX300, which houses the country’s top 300 companies on the exchange.
The firm, which has almost A$700m debt, recorded a loss of A$67m ($47m) in the last six months to December 2019 and has been offloading assets, including selling publishing group Pacific Magazines to Bauer Media and reportedly cutting production staff.
Previous reports have claimed the sales of Seven Studios in its entirety could raise as much as A$400m. The broadcaster appointed investment bank Morgan Stanley to explore the sale of Seven Studios in February, with buyers including ITV Studios, Disney and NBCUniversal reportedly among those looking.
Seven West Media CEO James Warburton said: “As part of our ongoing transformation, we’ve reassessed our appetite for investment in offshore production interests and have elected to divest Seven Studios UK and our interest in the 7Beyond JV. Our longstanding relationship with Beyond International makes them a natural partner to acquire these assets.
“As part of the divestment, Seven will retain a participation in current projects, as well as all onshore production interests. Seven is proud of these two businesses and the projects that came out of them and welcomes the strengthened business arrangement that will continue with Beyond in the future.”
Mikael Borglund, CEO and MD of Beyond International, added: “This is an exciting time for Beyond. We have already expanded our distribution business this year with the acquisition of TCB Media Rights and its extensive catalogue, and now we are adding to and strengthening our production capabilities in two of the world’s creative centres.”
Luscombe said: “We are excited to expand our current creative relationship with Damon and his team and look forward to developing fresh entertainment and factual content for both UK and global markets.
“With TCB’s strong producer relationships in the UK and this latest acquisition of SSUK, we are now in an enviable position to not only grow our business in Europe but also to increase the depth of our current development and production capacity based in the US and Australia. Having three strong Beyond hubs will also allow us to expedite productions and share resources as Covid restrictions start to ease in different locations.”