More than a month after Zodiak Media and Banijay Group confirmed they were in merger talks, the France-based media companies have today agreed to unite, creating a global producer-distributor with a footprint in more than 18 territories.
Together, the company – which is uniting catalogs and production outfits – will have more than US$1 billion in revenues and serve as one of the world’s biggest independent production and distribution companies, as well as the largest not controlled by a media group.
Once the deal closes, Banijay Group founder Stéphane Courbit will be named chairman, while Banijay CEO Marco Bassetti will serve as CEO of the merged company, according to a statement. The role of Zodiak Media CEO Marc-Antoine d’Halluin is still unclear.
Meanwhile, an “extensive sales arm” will oversee worldwide rights distribution and licensing for in-house and third-party content.
Zodiak Media – majority-owned by Italian conglomerate De Agostini, which also has a minority stake in Banijay Group – is headquartered in Paris, with offices in London, Los Angeles, Milan, Stockholm and Moscow. Its roster of UK companies includes RDF Television, IWC Media, Touchpaper Television and Red House, while French operations include GTV, Mona Lisa Production and Adventure Line Productions.
Meanwhile, Banijay Group, also based in Paris, is similarly global in scale to Zodiak, with US holdings such as Keeping Up With the Kardashians producer Bunim/Murray Productions.
As to how the merger will affect the operation of Zodiak Kids, it may be too soon to say, and the company did not respond to a request for comment before press time. Notably, Banijay has just one children’s title in its catalog, animated series Inky from Nordisk Film TV, so there will be little overlap in the kids segment in the merged entity.
Zodiak Kids – home to such children’s series as Get Blake, LoliRock, Zack & Quack and Mister Maker – has seen some extensive re-shuffling over the past two years. Former execs Nigel Pickard, David Michel and Vincent Chalvon-Demersay departed the company last year, while Zodiak named Jean-Philippe Randisi to the newly created position of CEO of Zodiak Kids last summer. More recently, the division consolidated its production operations under the Zodiak Kids Studios banner, placing industry veteran Michael Carrington at the helm as CEO.