Banijay names Ben Samek CEO of Americas as Cris Abrego steps down

Ben Samek

Banijay has restructured its operations in the Americas, with CEO Cris Abrego stepping down and being replaced by fellow Endemol alum Ben Samek.

Abrego had led Banijay’s operations across the Americas since 2020, following the French group’s acquisition of Endemol Shine Group earlier that year.

Cris Abrego

He will retain his role of chairman of the Americas for Banijay and focus on acquisitions and new business ventures, a move that follows the company’s hiring of former Publicis exec Stéphane Préfol as head of M&A earlier this week.

Samek, meanwhile, takes ownership of the newly created Banijay Americas division, which houses all production labels across the two continents.

These include: US-based Endemol Shine North America, Bunim/Murray Productions, Authentic Entertainment, Truly Original, 51 Minds Entertainment, Stephen David Entertainment and YellowBird US; Mexico-based Endemol Shine Boomdog and Banijay Mexico & US Hispanic; and Brazil-based duo A Fábrica and Endemol Shine Brasil.

Samek joined Endemol USA in 2014 as COO, retaining the role after the company merged with Shine to create Endemol Shine North America in 2015.

He was named president & COO for Endemol Shine North America in 2018m and continued in the position following Banijay’s acquisition of Endemol Shine.

Before that he was COO at 51 Minds Entertainment, where he worked with co-founder Abrego prior to its sale to Endemol in 2008.

“[Samek] has been a key partner to me for more than two decades and I know him to be an extraordinary and results-driven leader with the experience and relationships to drive success both domestically and internationally,” said Abrego.”

Samek added: “There are tremendous opportunities ahead for our business and I am inspired daily by the extraordinary talent and expertise of our team. I am grateful to Cris, who has been a mentor and friend for many years, and I look forward to the work ahead.”

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