This is an operation to 270 million euros. This Monday, the fund Mediawan, created by Matthieu Pigasse, Xavier Niel and Pierre-Antoine Capton, announced that it would buy the group of French tv AB. Its goal is to become a european leader in content. Mediawan dispute this ambition to Patrick Drahi (the owner of the group SFR, and The Express) and Vincent Bolloré (Vivendi).
“We will use AB as a platform for starting to create the first independent group of content in Europe. We are going to make a number of acquisitions in a few weeks or a few months, the cumulative value will be easily at more than 1 billion euros”, announced one of the creators of Mediawan, Matthieu Pigasse. The AB Group, currently owned by its founder Claude Berda (53%), TF1 (33.5%) and its leaders (13,5%), is one of the last groups audio-visual French independent. It will be the basis for a new project of Mediawan.
Helen and the Boys or Gears
This group is both a producer and a broadcaster currently employs 370 people. It has 19 channels, including RTL9 in France, AB3 in Belgium, chains of highly specialized (AB Engines, Hunting & Fishing, Golf Channel, etc.) and a catalogue of 12 000 hours of programming, including such series as Helen and the Boysor Gears, which sell regularly on French-language channels. AB Group also has an offer SVOD (“Subscription video on demand”, a service of videos on demand with subscription).
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In 2016, the group recorded a turnover of 158 million euros, for an operating result (EBITDA) of $ 36 million. Matthieu Pigasse sees in this acquisition “a tremendous opportunity”. “We bought in a multiple purchase much lower than all the acquisitions of recent years,” he adds. The purchase price of 270 million corresponds to 7.5 times the operating income, which is much less than for the redemption of NextRadioTV by Altice, for example.
Cinema, fiction and animation
The financial transaction continues the consolidation of the sector of the French production of audio-visual programs: in 2015, Vivendi acquired 26.2% for the production group Banijay-Zodiak, with an option to go up to 49.9%, and TF1 has taken the group Newen. AB product also series for TF1 such as research, aired since 2006, and Alice Nevers, started in 1993.
The last series of AB, White Box, was produced by its subsidiary, Ego Production, and was selected at the Berlin film festival. Proof, according to leaders of Mediawan, AB has a production capacity of top of the range. For Pierre-Antoine Capton, president of the management board of Mediawan and boss of the production company 3rd Eye, “it is an ideal platform to develop the production in Europe. We will be in all areas of content: film, fiction and animation.” “The demand for premium content has never been stronger, the value of the catalogs rising in the past five or six years,” he added.
A validation on the 13th of march
“Claude Berda has agreed to leave with us, rather than with actors, who offered more, because he wanted to that he created thrives in an environment independent, with its teams,” commented his side Xavier Niel. It ensures that Mediawan discusses “with five other actors in Europe to consolidate this platform”.
According to the boss of the Free, “we are able to produce in France and in Europe content, which will be sold in the world. And we have more customers: the telecom operators want the content as well as the internet platforms”. Matthieu Pigasse concluded: “What interests us is the production, the strings, the increasingly non-linear nature, the products around the SVOD services, apps…”. The general Assembly of Mediawan must approve the redemption of the AB group on march 13.