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Mediawan to buy Lagardere Studios for $112m as part of European expansion

Pierre-Antoine Capton, Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse

French media group Mediawan has revealed a plan to acquire a raft of content firms across Europe by striking a deal to buy Lagardere Studios for around €100m ($112m) and taking a minority stake in fast-growing German firm Leonine.

Mediawan, which appointed Endemol Shine France’s former chief operating officer Delphine Cazaux as COO in January, said it would create a “pan-European player” and was set to acquire Spanish prodco Good Mood, the audiovisual interests of Groupe Troisième Oeil – owned by Mediawan co-founder Pierre-Antoine Capton – and a minority stake in Leonine, the German group backed by US-based private equity firm KKR.

The companies will become part of Mediawan Alliance, controlled by Capton, Xavier Niel and Matthieu Pigasse, who formed Mediawan in 2015. The new firm will be backed by other financing partners including French insurance firm MACSF and KKR.

Mediawan’s chairman Pierre-Antoine Capton will become CEO, with Fred Kogel – currently CEO at Leonine – appointed deputy CEO. The firm will be based out of Paris and will look to leverage co-production opportunities between France and Germany, as well as looking for further acquisition opportunities across Europe.

“We created Mediawan four years ago with the intention to create a European audiovisual champion to respond to the demand for premium content, and these new operations are unprecedented steps to continue our growth in new European geographies, new formats and with new partners,” said Capton.

“The combination with key players like Lagardère Studios and Groupe Troisième Oeil and the cooperation projects with Leonine confirm Mediawan’s strategy. I am particularly proud to lead this Group and be able to count on the talent of Fred Kogel and his teams,” he said.

Dark

Tender, terms & timelines

Capton, Niel and Pigasse are launching a tender to buy all Mediawan securities not held by the founders or MACSF at a price of €12 per share, with the minority stake in Leonine secured from KKR. The US investment firm will finance the offer and hold “specific minority shareholder’s veto rights aimed at protecting its financial investment”.

Leonine is the fast-growing German media group, which includes Tele München Group, Universum Film, Universum and i&u TV. Last year, the company struck a deal to acquire Wiedemann & Berg TV, the Endemol Shine Group-owned company behind Netflix drama hit Dark.

Mediawan Alliance has also put forward a binding offer for Lagardère Studios, for a total consideration of up to €100m. Lagardère Studios owns production firms across Europe and Africa, as well as a distribution arm, and owns Spain’s Grupo Boomerang, Finland’s Aito Media and the Netherlands’ Skyhigh TV.

It also owns 25 production labels, including The Eddy prodco Atlantique Production, Tandem creators DEMD Productions, and Imagissime, with the latter behind Netflix’s docuseries Gregory. Its distribution business has a catalogue of around 10,000 hours.

The new firm has also completed a deal to take a majority stake in Good Mood, the Spanish prodco created in 2017 by former CEO of Globomedia Daniel Écija. Its output includes Un Paso Adelante, El Accidente and La Valla, which will be broadcast on Antena 3 in Spain and Netflix worldwide in the next few months.

The company had already signed a coproduction partnership with Mediawan Rights for an untitled “high-end series with significant international potential”.

The firm has also submitted a binding offer for the acquisition of audiovisual activities from Pierre-Antoine Capton’s Troisième Oeil, which was launched in 2001 and produces more than 500 hours of programming a year. It’s been behind unscripted series including France 5’s C A Vous, Vintage Mechanics on RMC Découverte and  documentaries such as Antoine Griezmann: Champion Du Monde for Netflix.

It’s upcoming output includes Amazon’s forthcoming show on French rap singer Orelsan, scripted shows include social comedy 100% Bio and En Quête De Vérité.

El Accidente

Building a European studio

Mediawan has consistently spoken of its fast-growing expansion plans, with the latest deals coming after acquisitions of firms such as Storia Television, the company created to sell EuropaCorp’s TV business, and majority stakes in Makever and Mon Voisin Productions in 2018.

It had already struck a deal to buy AB Groupe a year earlier, the first acquisition from the group.

The launch of Mediawan Alliance is also the latest move from Leonine, the German group that burst into the European content landscape last year. Its chief, Fred Kogel, will remain CEO of the German firm in addition to his new role of deputy CEO at Mediawan Alliance, and the deal suggests there will be increasing co-operation between the two companies.

“The vision of creating a pan-European film studio, that covers the entire value chain of the content business in the European key territories has inspired us since Leonine was founded, a year ago,” Kogel said today. “I am more than delighted to assume the position of Deputy CEO at Mediawan Alliance and to explore together with Pierre-Antoine the promising opportunities ahead for possible future cooperations and coproductions between Mediawan and Leonine, together with my Leonine team.”

“For all Leonine companies this is, one year after its foundation, another big step forward in order to be able to provide our partners and customers in Germany with even more premium content and to open up further opportunities – also beyond Germany’s borders – for all our creative talents,” he added.

Philipp Freise, partner and co-head of European private equity at Leonine-backer KKR, continued: “In just one year Leonine has become one of the most attractive content houses in Europe – and this journey is not over yet. As the majority shareholder, we therefore look forward to continuing to work closely and in the spirit of partnership with Fred Kogel and his team in the future.”