Peter Chernin has linked up with two US-based private equity firms to create The North Road Company, with its first acquisition the $200m pick-up of Red Arrow Studios’ North American production firms.
The company is being backed by Providence Equity Partners and Apollo, which will together provide access to $800m to fuel further acquisitions.
The Red Arrow assets will be combined with Chernin Entertainment to form The North Road Company, with the new firm also housing Connor Schell’s unscripted prodco, Words + Pictures. As part of the deal, North Road is taking full ownership of Schell’s firm, having previously held a 50% stake. The exec will head up North Road’s unscripted side of the business.
Chernin Entertainment exec Jenno Topping leads on the scripted side, with Chernin becoming CEO of North Road.
A UK office is being opened in London that will be led by former Red Arrow chairman Jan Frouman, while former AMC Networks exec Kristin Jones is now president of international TV.
The sale of Red Arrow’s US stable, which started in January, includes LA heavyweights such as Love Is Blind and Married At First Sight prodco Kinetic Content, as well as LA-based 44 Blue Productions, which was behind A&E’s Wahlburgers and Fox’s First Responders Live.
Chernin’s new company is also taking control of East Coast interests ranging from HalfYard Productions, which has been behind Say Yes To The Dress for TLC, to Dorsey Pictures and Left/Right, the producer of FX and Hulu’s doc Framing Britney Spears.
P7’s focus & Red Arrow saga
Chernin has been among frontrunners for Red Arrow’s US assets for months, with the sale the culmination of a three-year long process that begun prior to the pandemic.
At that stage, Red Arrow parent ProSiebenSat.1 had been looking to offload the entirety of the production and distribution business. However, after a sale to All3Media fell through, the process was halted, with ProSieben then claiming it “strongly believed” in the division and would retain it.
The sales process was restarted again earlier this year with private equity firms taking a particular interest, as revealed by TBI. It had initially attracted a range of inquisitive buyers including Endeavor Content-owner CJ ENM, TBI understands, with US-based Chernin and an unknown private equity firm among the whittled down final few.
ProSiebenSat.1, meanwhile, has been refocusing its efforts on the German-speaking market, with the sale reflecting “the clear focus of… [its] entertainment business on producing local, relevant content that is distributed live and on-demand across all platforms in the German-speaking region.”
The German group added that “for creative ideas and the production of own content, the German-speaking production business of Redseven Entertainment and the European production companies CPL Productions, Endor Productions, Snowman Productions and July August play an important role.”
Distribution arm Red Arrow Studios International will also remain in the ProSiebenSat.1 Group, the company added.
Rainer Beaujean, ProSiebenSat.1’s CEO, said: “We continuously verify that our companies are fully aligned with our strategy and financial targets. In the entertainment business, this means that we need production companies that understand the cultural characteristics and preferences of our viewers.
“After all, local content is what sets us apart from the competition. Such production businesses are, besides our German companies, our assets in countries such as Denmark and the UK. It was therefore consequent that we keep these companies within our Group.”
Beaujean added that the “top priority” is “to link” those companies “even more closely with our entertainment platforms. Our US production companies have created successful and popular TV brands in the US market, but do not strengthen our strategy in the German-speaking region in the long term. For North Road, they will make a significant contribution. We wish them all the best for this and thank them very much for our time together.”