Sweden's Modern Times Group to Acquire Finland's Nice Entertainment in $114 Million Deal

1:17 AM PST 09/23/2013 by Scott Roxborough
Sony Pictures Television
Sony has acquired international format rights to Nice BBQ format "Grill Masters."

The all-cash deal brings together one of Europe's largest broadcasters with Scandinavia's leading indie TV production group.

COLOGNE, Germany – Sweden-based European broadcast giant Modern Times Group (MTG) has outbid its rivals to acquire a majority stake in Finnish production firm Nice Entertainment Group.

The deal will see MTG acquire a 86.6 percent stake in Nice for an enterprise value of $114.2 million (€84.4 million) in an all-cash deal. The actual price tag will depend on a variable component related to certain operating profit levels at Nice for 2013 and 2014.

The remaining 13.2 percent of the company not owned by MTG will remain with Nice founders and management.

Nice is an umbrella organization with several fully-owned production subsidiaries across Scandinavia and specializes in the development and production of both small-screen dramas and of reality formats, including Norwegian Idol, Celebrity Babysitter and cooking show The Grill Masters.

For last year, Nice reported revenue of $164 million (€121.1 million) and an operating profit of $11 million (€8.1 million).

Nice CEO Morten Aass will stay on as CEO of the company following the acquisition, which still has to be approved by Scandinavian competition authorities.

The deal brings together one of the largest pan-European broadcasters with Scandinavia's top independent TV production group. MTG operates multiple pay TV and free TV networks with its core focus on Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. The Nice acquisition will greatly strength its in-house production operations MTG Studios and could allow MTG to leverage its network position in Scandinavia by launching Nice-produced formats across the Nordic region.

“Nice is a fantastic company and a perfect strategic fit with MTG Studios, with well-diversified TV production and relationships with all of the major Scandinavian broadcasters, as well as a unique approach to integrating TV and event production,” said MTG Studios chairman and executive vp of content Patrick Svensk. “It will be business as usual for Nice, and it will continue as an independent content company serving all clients in the Nordic region.”

The Nice deal fits into a general pattern of consolidation across Europe's TV production industry. Giant production groups, often controlled by broadcasters, are buying up successful national production shingles to generate economies of scale and  more quickly transform local hits into global format phenomena.

Several big players were reportedly circling Nice. A report earlier this year in The Times of London claimed ITV had looked at the company and suggested other major players, including Sony, Time Warner and RTL Group-owned FremantleMedia, might enter the bidding.

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