Exclusive-France’s Mediawan weighs takeover of KKR-backed Leonine –sources

By Amy-Jo Crowley and Mathieu Rosemain

LONDON/PARIS (Reuters) – Shareholders of French TV production group Mediawan are weighing a takeover of Germany’s KKR-backed Leonine Studios, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters, in a deal that could value the combined entity at up to 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion).

The tie-up is among strategic options being discussed by Mediawan’s advisers and shareholders as the Paris-based company, known for the TV series “Call my Agent!”, assesses its next phase of expansion, the people said.

KKR could retain a stake in the merged entity, one of the people added, asking not to be named because the talks are private. The combined group would be valued between 2.5 billion euros and 3 billion euros, two of the people said.

Deliberations are at an early stage, and a decision on whether to proceed with the merger should be made by the end of the year, said one of the people.

KKR and Mediawan declined to comment, Leonine Studios did not respond to requests for comment.

Mediawan was founded in 2015 by TV producer Pierre-Antoine Capton, telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel and dealmaker Matthieu Pigasse.

KKR and private equity group Atwater Capital also hold minority stakes in Mediawan.

The group has grown through acquisitions including last year purchasing Brad Pitt’s Plan B, the Hollywood producer behind Oscar winning movies “Moonlight” and “The Big Short”.

Mediawan would add movie titles such as “Moonfall” and “John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum” to its portfolio were it to acquire Leonine Studios. Mediawan and Leonine formed a TV production joint venture in 2020.

A tie-up with Leonine would help Mediawan keep pace with bigger rival Banijay, Europe’s biggest independent TV production group.

Banijay’s listed parent company, FL Entertainment, is valued at 3.68 billion euros.

The merger would come amid renewed deal activity in the media sector.

France’s Federation Studios is in talks with possible advisers to help it explore strategic options, Reuters reported earlier this month, while Britain’s All3Media is in the process of finding a buyer.

A sale process for Spanish broadcasting and sports rights group Mediapro is also underway, according to Reuters.

Led by Fred Kogel, Munich-based Leonine was formed in 2019 through the merger of several German media production and distribution companies, such as Tele München Group, Universum Film, i&u TV and Wiedemann & Berg Film.

($1 = 0.9132 euros)

(Reporting by Amy-Jo Crowley in London and Mathieu Rosemain in Paris; Editing by Anousha Sakoui and Susan Fenton)