Peter Chernin’s The North Road Company has snagged a $150m investment from The Qatar Investment Authority, as reports swirl that the recently launched company and Banijay owner FL Entertainment are among suitors for a stake in ITV Studios (ITVS).
Chernin linked up with US-based private equity firms Providence Equity Partners and Apollo to create The North Road Company last year, which marked its launch by acquiring Red Arrow Studios’ North American production firms for $200m.
Providence and Apollo had initially provided an $800m pot for further acquisitions and expansion, with North Road already home to Ford v Ferrari firm Chernin Entertainment, The Last Dance producer Words + Pictures and Red Arrow’s labels, including Love Is Blind prodco 44 Blue Entertainment.
It is now in talks to acquire a stake in Love Is Blind producer ITV Studios (ITVS), which was revealed last year to be exploring splitting off its profitable production and distribution division from its parent UK commercial broadcaster.
Reuters, which broke the news, added that Banijay owner FL Entertainment, which was launched last year, is also among those exploring a deal.
The move to roll Banjay into publically traded FL Entertainment, which also houses online gambling firm Betclic, freed up capital for the French production-distribution giant, prompting an acquisitions spree over the past 12 months.
Stakes & control
However, it is unclear whether North Road or Banijay would be willing to take a minority stake in ITVS, with owner ITV not wanting to relinquish control of the division.
Industry sources suggest ITVS could be worth north of £2.5bn ($3bn) although there is likely to be considerable resistance to breaking up the broadcaster-producer model. ITV CEO Carlyn McCall recently said that the division was “definitely not for sale,” but admitted options around its future were being explored.
The ITV Studios umbrella covers around 60 production companies in 13 countries, making it one of the largest producers of scripted and unscripted content in Europe.
ITV has continued to expand this production footprint, with the company acquiring a controlling stake in Plimsoll Productions, the UK natural history producer behind Apple+’s Tiny World and Animal for Netflix, for £103.5 ($126m) in June.
ITV Studios, which saw an 84% increase in its sales to streamers over the first half of 2021, is also making a push into AVOD and FAST, launching two channels in Europe, including one that the global distribution giant says will become the “home for the best European drama” produced by its own labels.
TBI has contacted Banijay and Chernin, while ITVS declined to comment on the reports.