Several suitors consider deal for producer-distributor

All3Media, Banijay and Fremantle are among the companies linked to an acquisition of NENT Studios UK.  

Broadcast understands that NENT Studios UK, which announced it was seeking new ownership on Monday, has engaged M&A brokering firm ACF Investment Bank to handle a deal. 

NENT Studios UK has claimed 20 companies had expressed interest after parent Nordic Entertainment (NENT) Group put it up for sale. 

Among these, the trio of super-indies, along with European and US entertainment and media companies and investment firms, are believed to be considering a deal. 

An informed source said NENT Studios UK offered “a strong set of brands that had sold well” internationally and noted its catalogue was one of very few available on the market following recent rounds of consolidation in the distribution market. 

NENT Studios UK, which subsumed UK distributor DRG last year, has a library of more than 13,000 hours and 150 formats, with key titles including dramas Doc Martin and The Cry and factual formats such as My Grandparents’ War. 

The British producer-distributor had initially been set up as a key supplier of English-language content for NENT’s Scandinavian SVoD Viaplay. It has 15 shows in paid development, alongside already greenlit Channel 4 co-pro Close to Me. 

However, the spectre of a sale first emerged around six months ago, as management at the two companies began to see their strategies diverging. 

Speaking to Broadcast earlier this week, NENT Studios UK chief executive Richard Halliwell said investing “heavily” in early-stage development of English-language scripted and non-scripted projects required international partners to co-finance and co-develop content. 

“They’re never going to get off the blocks otherwise,” he added. “That means we’re not really representing the producers we work with if we’re only servicing Viaplay.” 

Halliwell said NENT Studios UK would look for a buyer that would not “asset strip” but would take advantage of the “millions invested in scripted content” and its strategy of commissioning non-scripted programming. 

All3Media, Banijay and Fremantle declined to comment.