Time Warner Makes Big Bid for Big Brother Founder - Dutch Production Company Endemol

written by: Richard Kastelein

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US media behemoth Time Warner seeks to take over debt-laden production company Endemol, the creative juice behind Big Brother and Deal or No Deal and has ponied up an offer of one billion euro for the cash strapped production company which has been labouring to restructure €2.8bn in loans after being unable to satisfy its bankers.

The Guardian in the UK:

The production company is jointly owned by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset, Goldman Sachs's Capital Partners and Endemol founder John de Mol's investment vehicle Cyrte. The timing of Time Warner's unsolicited bid is opportunistic and will require the two-thirds majority approval of Endemol's lenders, which include Barclays and RBS, to succeed.

Time Warner has been on a drive to expand its international production business in the past couple of years, taking a controlling stake in Shed Media, the UK company behind shows such as Supernanny and Waterloo Road, in August last year in a deal valuing the company at £100m.

And from the Wall Street Journal:

Endemol spokesman Charlie Gardner confirmed the bid on Friday following earlier reports of the deal. Gardner said the company had not been seeking a buyer and is focused on restructuring debt that was incurred when it was bought for around $3.6 billion in 2007 by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset, Goldman Sachs and Dutch private equity firm Cyrte Investments, which was founded to manage Endemol co-founder John de Mol's private wealth. Gardner said that a non-binding bid submitted by Time Warner this week would be passed on to Endemol's lenders.

"This doesn't change anything, we remain focused on reaching a solution with lenders," Endemol said in a statement. "Those discussions continue to make good progress and we are confident that an agreement will put the business on a firm financial footing and strengthen Endemol's prospects for the future."

Endemol, which also produces "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," said in August it was launching a division to produce and finance scripted TV shows, including "Hell on Wheels," which is set to premiere on pay TV channel AMC on Sunday.

The Financial Times reported that the offer could spark off a bidding war between Time Warner and Endemol’s current owners, Mediaset, the Italian media empire controlled by Silvio Berlusconi.
Endemol spokesman Charlie Armitstead has confirmed the bid.

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