De Agostini launches content outfit
Zodiak aims for annual revenue of $1.3 billionLONDON -- Bucking the trend for doom and gloom, De Agostini Group unveiled ambitious plans for its new international TV division Wednesday, saying it planned to grow Zodiak Television into a 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) a year operation -- Zodiac Entertainment -- through expansion in the U.K. and U.S. and was preparing itself for a flotation in "24-36 months."
At a briefing in London that pledged to be good news for M&A investment bankers, De Agostini CEO Lorenzo Pellicioli said the family owned group -- which has annual revenues of 3.6 billion euros ($4.6 billion) and cashflow of 900 million euros ($1.6 billion) -- would be prepared to bankroll Zodiak to make production acquisitions to the tune of "a couple of hundred million euros," citing the U.S and U.K. as specific expansion targets.
Zodiak Entertainment will combine De Agostini's interests in French production company Marathon, Italian producer Magnolia and Scandinavia-based Zodiak Television and will be headquartered in London and Paris.
Pellicioli said Zodiak's three-year plan included doubling revenue to 800 million euros ($1 billion) - 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) and doubling cashflow to between 130 million euros ($167 million) - 150 million euros ($192 million) by the end of 2011, as well as expansion into the U.S. and U.K.
Despite owning a share in Spanish broadcaster Antena 3, De Pellicioli ruled out further broadcasting acquisitions, citing the "declining margins" of the free-to-air business.
"We are not interested in broadcasters -- not at the moment and not in the future," he said.
"The fact that distribution is becoming more proliferated convinced us that we needed to go up the value chain and focus on content," he said.
Pellicioli will be Zodiak Entertainment Group president with other senior members of the management broad including Marathon CEO Pascal Breton, Magnolia Group CEO Giorio Gori and Zodiak TV CEO Patrick Svensk.