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Paris-based Banijay bets big on India with $2.2-b Endemol Shine deal

Endemol Shine India, with over Rs 200 crore in topline, was 10 times in size compared to Banijay Asia as of last fiscal.
MUMBAI: Paris-headquartered Banijay Group, the world’s largest independent TV and multimedia content production company, is upbeat on India with its $2.2-billion acquisition of Endemol Shine Group.

Banijay will have almost 200 production companies in 23 territories once the deal is completed in the next 12-18 months. In India, it aims to be the number one production house for unscripted content with formats like ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Fear Factor’. The move will also allow exit for private equity firm KKRbacked Emerald Media, which owns 49% stake in Endemol Shine India.

“Banijay wants to take full control of Endemol Shine Group, which will result in its buying back of 49% minority stake from Emerald Media. Emerald Media, which has taken over CA Media’s stake in the company, has been on the lookout to exit for some time. This deal will allow the fund to do so at the current market value,” said an insider with direct knowledge of the development.

Banijay is present in India through two entities. It owns 70% interest in SOL Productions, where it had invested in 2010, while in April last year, it entered into a 50:50 joint venture with former Endemol India MD Deepak Dhar to launch Seventaurrus Entertainment Studio, more commonly known as Banijay Asia.

Endemol Shine India, with over Rs 200 crore in topline, was 10 times in size compared to Banijay Asia as of last fiscal. Since Dhar quit in 2017, the company has grown by around 45%.

There is speculation in the market on how the merger will pan out once the acquisition is completed and whether a race for the corner room will ensue, considering that Dhar has worked at Endemol India for close to 11 years.

Asked if there will be a merger of the three companies in India, both Endemol and Banijay executives declined to comment, while Fazila Allana, managing director at SOL Productions, said the three companies might continue to work independently. “Banijay has multiple production houses in the US, UK and Europe within same territories. They don’t need to merge the companies, but we all can have access to all the formats,” Allana said.

A senior media adviser said that even if a merger happens, Endemol Shine India will be the bigger company. “Like merger of Star India with Disney, where Star being much bigger in size, is managing the merged entity. One can expect the same in this case also. Moreover, for Dhar to come back as head of the company, he will have to let go his stake in Seventaurrus and what will happen of its partnerships with Salman Khan TV and MS Dhoni’s Dhoni Entertainment? I think they (Banijay Group) will follow the global model,” he said.
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