French production group Mediawan has raised funds from its investors to finance the acquisition of a “significant stake” in Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment.
The French group, which is backed by US private equity firms KKR and Atwater Capital among others, emerged as the frontrunner to buy into the Outer Range producer last month and has now struck a “definitive agreement” with the prodco.
The deal, which marks Mediawan’s first acquisition outside of Europe, will “create valuable synergies across talent development and IP acquisition”, the French firm said, as it looks to tap into “an increasingly global audience.” Financial terms were not disclosed.
Aside from KKR and Atwater, Mediawan’s shareholders include finance firms such as Bpifrance, MACSF and Société Générale. They have all increased their capital investment in Mediawan to finance the deal, which will also see the three partners in Plan B – Pitt and co-presidents, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner – become partners in Mediawan.
Mediawan US has been created to coordinate future developments in the US, with its board chaired by Atwater co-founder Vania Schlogel and Mediawan co-founder Pierre-Antoine Capton named as CEO.
The French firm’s US arm will also hold a stake in Blue Morning Pictures, the production company launched in 2022 by Mediawan with filmmakers Florian Zeller and Federica Sainte-Rose.
Capton said the deal would “create a unique artistic link between Europe and the United States through which we and Plan B will develop premium independent content, providing a global platform on which the world’s greatest talent can continue to thrive.”
Pitt, Gardner and Kleiner added that the investment would allow them to “maximise our reach toward an increasingly global audience with a broad range of films and television series across all platforms, genres, and mediums.”
Philipp Freise, partner & co-head of European private equity at KKR, said the deal built on its long-term strategy to invest in the sector and its move to take Mediawan privat and found of Leonine Studios.
Plan B’s trajectory
Plan B was launched by Pitt and Jennifer Aniston more than 15 years ago, with Pitt then taking full ownership in 2005. It is behind shows such as The Underground Railroad and Outer Range for Amazon Prime Video, Lego Masters for Fox and movies such as The Departed.
It also has a first-look deal with Amazon Studios and is led by co-presidents Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner.
Mediawan was launched by Pierre-Antoine Capton, Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse in 2015. It subsequently partnered with Germany’s private equity-backed Leonine Studios and has been in acquisitive mood, picking up Lagardere Studios in 2020 and Doctor Foster firm Drama Republic last year.
It also own firms such as Storia Television, the company created to sell EuropaCorp’s TV business, and took majority stakes in Makever and Mon Voisin Productions in 2018, as well as AB Groupe a year earlier.
In June last year the Mediawan Alliance took a minority stake in Leonine, which is the fast-growing German media group also backed by KKR. Its interests include Tele München Group, Universum Film, Universum, i&u TV and Dark producer Wiedemann & Berg TV, which is now led by former Bavaria Fiction chief creative officer Oliver Vogel.