De Agostini finishes Marathon talks

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ROME -- Italian publisher De Agostini has agreed to terms to acquire control of French television production shingle Marathon, sources close to the deal said Thursday, further cementing the Italian company's push into television and films.

The deal -- reportedly worth more than €250 million ($343 million) -- was finalized this week and will officially be announced in the coming days, sources said.

Marathon is France's second-largest television production company, trailing only the French unit of Dutch television content producer Endemol. De Agostini attempted to acquire control of Endemol earlier this year before being outbid by a group led by billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi.

Controlled by U.K. private equity firm Bridgepoint, Marathon produces about 350 hours of programming a year, including documentaries, animated programs and dramas popular in France and other French-speaking territories. The company had revenue of €109 million ($149 million) last year.

De Agostini is the world's 10th-largest publisher, according to Forbes Magazine, but it has begun a push to become a larger player in the television and film industries. In addition to its failed bid for control of Endemol, De Agostini has this year acquired control of Italian art house film distribution company Mikado and television content producer Magnolia. The company also owns a large stake in Spanish broadcaster Antena 3.
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