Discovery And Liberty Swoop For All3Media
Two of the world's biggest media groups are poised to snap up the British television producer behind Hollyoaks and The Only Way Is Essex in a deal valuing it at more than £550m.
Sky News has learnt that Discovery Communications and Liberty Global have struck a deal to acquire All3Media, which is owned by the London-based private equity group Permira.
The transaction, which is expected to be announced on Friday, will see All3Media owned by a new joint venture being established by the two US-listed media groups.
Discovery and Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media, a competitor to Sky News' owner BSkyB, are understood to be drawing up plans for further takeovers to create an independent global content platform.
Sky News revealed Discovery's interest in All3Media last month.
All3Media is run by Farah Ramzan Golant, a former advertising executive who also sits on the Business Advisory Group set up by David Cameron, the Prime Minister.
Its network of 15 subsidiaries has been responsible for creating some of Britain's most popular TV shows, including Gogglebox, Midsomer Murders, Shameless and Skins.
Permira has owned All3Media since 2006, and the sale to Discovery and Liberty Global will be the private equity group's second attempt to offload the company, having tried to sell it in 2011.
A takeover involving Discovery will underpin the US company's international expansion plans, with its existing networks including the likes of Animal Planet and the Oprah Winfrey Network, a separate joint venture.
The deal comes during a busy period for deals involving UK broadcasters.
Discovery was reported to have been considering a bid for Channel 5, the UK terrestrial broadcaster which was sold last week to Viacom, the owner of MTV, for £450m.
Earlier this week, ITV acquired a controlling stake in Leftfield, an American producer of reality shows including Pawn Stars and Real Housewives of New Jersey, in a deal which could ultimately be worth close to £500m.
Discovery and Liberty Global saw off competition to buy All3Media from Fremantle, the producer of The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.
Neither Discovery nor Liberty Global could be reached for comment on Thursday. A Permira spokeswoman declined to comment.