All3Media CEO to exit as sale to Discovery and LG closes

Ramzan Golant

Ramzan Golant

All3Media’s CEO Farah Ramzan Golant is to exit the UK-based production giant after Discovery Communications and Liberty Global got the all clear to acquire the group.

Following a regulatory greenlight, All3 is now officially owned by a joint venture holding company that Discovery and cable TV rival Liberty operate together. The pair have paid £550 million (€700 million) for the company.

As a result, Ramzan Golant will leave the business, with All3 COO Jane Turton promoted to managing director to oversee the group until a permanent replacement is found. Neil Bright will remain as CFO.

A search for a new CEO will begin immediately. This person will oversee a group of 19 production companies and a distribution wing, all of which will remain operating to the ‘federal’ model that All3 has adopted over the years.

Golant was considered a surprising choice to succeed Steve Morrison when she was appointed in 2012 following an unsuccessful sales process that ended without a buyer for All3.

An advertising executive by trade, it has conspired a key reason she was drafted in was to super-charge a new sales process for former All3 owner Permira, which is a privately-owned hedge fund, and existing shareholder management.

Permira had first attempted to sell the company for £750 million in 2011, but found offers way below that number. However, the £550 million represents a tidy profit on the £320 million it paid to buy All3 in 2006.

She is also credited with having recapitalized All3 with a new financial structure in May, which its new owners say gives it a “solid financial foundation” as it heads towards its next phase of life.

“Having successfully completed the sale of All3Media to Discovery Communications and Liberty Global, I have determined that this is the right time to leave the company to pursue a new challenge,” said Golant.

“I was appointed as CEO to set the business on a new course for growth and to achieve a successful sale to strategic owners. Once accomplished, I agreed to remain as CEO through the transition of ownership to completion.

All3 co-founders Morrison, Jules Burns and David Liddiment are all retiring from the board, though former CEO Morrison will serve as a special advisor to the board of the Discovery-Liberty JV.

Morrison said the closing of the deal left All3 in “incredibly capable hands”.

“All3Media is a production powerhouse, with a unique ability to attract, foster and retain some of the best creative minds in the business. For nearly 30 years, Discovery has invested in high quality content and today’s deal furthers that commitment,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery yesterday.

Liberty CEO Mike Fries added: “The business, which produces content for some of our biggest markets in Europe, including the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, is a natural fit for us and our strategy for content.

“Discovery is the perfect partner too, as they not only commission All3Media content already, but also share our ambition to create compelling, localised content for domestic markets. Together, we will seek to preserve All3Media’s creative independence and support its management to further grow this strong creative business.”

J.P. Morgan acted as financial adviser to Discovery and Liberty Global during the sales process. Centerview Partners acted as financial adviser to All3Media and Clifford Chance served as legal adviser.

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