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French TV producer Banijay to go public via Arnault-backed blank-check company

French media group Banijay will go public through a merger with a blank-check acquisition firm backed by billionaire Bernard Arnault in a deal worth more than 4 billion euros, an executive at its parent company said on Tuesday.

The production house behind global television hits such as “The Voice”, “Black Mirror,” “The Kardashians” and “Master Chef” will be part of a listed entity, dubbed FL Entertainment, whose first day of listing will be on July 1, the executive, Francois Riahi, said.

The deal gives FL Entertainment an enterprise value of 7.2 billion euros, including debt, or 4.1 billion euros in equity value, said Riahi, who will become CEO of the group.

In 2022, FL Entertainment is expected to generate 3.8 billion euros in revenue and core operating profits of 650 million euros.

It will go public through the acquisition by Pegasus Entrepreneurs, a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) notably backed by investment firm Tikehau Capital and Financiere Agache, a holding company controlled by LVMH founder Arnault.

FL Entertainment will be home to a second media asset, online gambling company Betclic. Betclic and Banijay are both currently controlled by investor Stephane Courbit via his investment arm Financiere LOV.

The LOV group will inject 250 million euros in FL Entertainment as part of the deal and will own 46% of its share capital and 72% of its voting rights.

FL Entertainment also secured 220 million euros in so-called Pipe financing, which allows a group of institutional investors to buy shares at a discounted price, Riahi said.

Existing shareholders of Banijay and Betclic, such as a media giant Vivendi, the Monaco-owned fund Societe des Bains de Mer and billionaire Marc Ladreit de Lacharriere’s Fimalac, also pledged to reinvest.

As a result, Vivendi, controlled by billionaire Vincent Bollore, will own 20% of FL Entertainment. Societe des bains de Mer and Fimalac will own 10% and 7% of the entity respectively. Reuters

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