Scotland’s STV Studios buys Greenbird Media for $27m from Keshet International

Lego Masters (US)

Scotland’s STV Studios has bought UK-based producer group Greenbird Media after striking a £21.4m ($27m) deal to acquire the company from majority shareholder Keshet International (KI).

The acquisition, which comes 10 months since TBI first revealed KI was exploring offers for the group, means STV Studios will gain stakes in 15 production companies including A&E After Dark outfit Crackit Productions and Lego Masters firm Tuesday’s Child Television, which Greenbird had majority owned.

The deal also hands STV minority interests in a raft of other companies such as Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing firm Owl Power, as well as Flicker Pictures, Kalel Productions, Top Hat Productions, Frank Spotnitz’s Big Light Productions, Hello Halo, Little Dooley, Rockerdale Studios and Rumpus Media.

KI acquired its 60% stake in Greenbird – founded by Jamie Munro and Stuart Mullin a decade ago – in 2018, buying out the stake previously held by BBC Studios (formerly BBC Worldwide).

Greenbird, which is home to around 2,000 hours of programming and is set to produce around 350 hours this year, was launched to support prodcos by allowing creatives to focus on their shows, while it managed the commercial side.

Gone Fishing

It recorded revenues of around £32m last year, with profits before tax of about £2.9m. The acquisition cost could rise up to £24m depending on performance, while the enlarged STV Studios operation – which now has bases in Glasgow, London, Cardiff, Belfast, Brighton and Manchester – is expected to deliver synergy savings of around £750,000 annually from 2024.

STV growth plan & KI’s scripted focus

The deal marks further expansion for STV Studios, which is the production arm of the Scottish broadcaster led by former Tinopolis exec David Mortimer.

STV CEO Simon Pitts described the acquisition as a “major step” in his company’s bid to becoming “the UK’s number one nations and regions production company.”

Pitts added that the deal would add “significant scale and creative firepower to the group and immediately accelerating STV’s overall diversification in terms of both revenue and profit.”

STV Studios is behind shows such as BBC One drama The Victim and Apple TV+’s upcoming Criminal Record, while its interests already include a 25% stake in Patrick Melrose producer Two Cities Television, another former BBC Studios investment.

The Greenbird deal will also prompt a rejg of STV Studios management, with former Shine boss Munro becoming chief commercial officer and ex-Argonon exec Mullin taking up the position of finance & integration director.

They will work with the Scottish production firm’s COO Paul Sheehan and MD, David Mortimer, to drive further prodco expansion in the UK and globally.

Munro will step down as MD at Keshet UK following a three-month handover, with Christine Healy, who was recently appointed COO, taking on his remit.

The Hit List

Mullins and Munro said Greenbird’s “incubator model” had given “creatives space to flourish and deliver some of the most innovative, entertaining and loved programmes in the UK”, thanking KI for “a great five years”.

Keshet’s scripted focus

For KI, the global arm of Israel’s Keshet Media, the deal will provide the company with funds to fuel an increased focus on scripted.

The company will also retain distribution of Greenbird programming already in its catalogue, per existing deals, meaning it will continue to sell shows such as Tuesday’s Child’s The Hit List, Crackit’s Trucking Hell.

Keshet added that its staff who are currently based in the Greenbird offices will continue to work out of that location in the short term, up until the end of the year, by when KI expects to have its own central London offices.

The sale comes two years since KI restructured its UK operations by splitting the scripted and unscripted operations of Keshet Productions in two. Unscripted assets were re-launched as a separate company known as Interstellar, which fell under the umbrella of Greenbird and was majority owned by Tuesday’s Child.

Interstellar is led by MD David Williams, with Jamie Ormerod promoted to creative director and Marisa Guagenti head of production. The trio were behind Keshet Productions’ shows including ITV2’s Singletown, as well as Speed Freaks for ITV4 and Craft Party for UK kids channel CBBC.

Keshet Productions, meanwhile, retained its name but now only focuses on scripted for the UK and international markets, with Howard Burch (The A Word) overseeing operations. The company is behind shows including Apple TV’s Suspicion – a remake of Keshet  format False Flag.

KI CEO Keren Shahar added: “We’ve had a great five years working alongside Jamie and Stuart, the Greenbird team, and the talented indies within their stable to take all their businesses to the next level.

“Now it’s time for the next stage of Greenbird’s development, where STV takes the reins and continues this pattern of growth, fueled with the obvious synergies between the two companies, to create one great British institution. We wish them all the best with their future endeavors, as we at KI continue our mission to bring great content to TV screens around the world, both as a global producer and distributor.”

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