Sweden's Modern Times Group Goes on Euro Buying Spree

Digital Rights Group's catalogue includes cult TV hit "The Inbetweeners."
Digital Rights Group's catalogue includes cult TV hit "The Inbetweeners."
 BBC

Sweden's Modern Times Group has gone on a European spending spree, snatching up majority stakes in U.K. independent TV rights distribution banner Digital Rights Group (DRG) and Norwegian format group Novemberfilm.

The Stockholm-based company will pay $23.5 million (£15 million) for a 92.4 percent stake in DRG, which reps rights and programs from British indie producers including cult British comedy TV show The Inbetweeners and drama Doc Martin. Modern Times Group acquired the stake from Guernsey-based investment company Ingenious Media Active Capital, which has been looking to sell off the British group since last summer.

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As a consequence of the takeover, DRG founder Jeremy Fox will return to the company as its new CEO, replacing current managing director Jonathan Jackson who is stepping down.  Fox and his management team will hold the remaining 7.6 percent of the company. For the year ended March 31, 2013, DRG reported EBITDA of $2.5 million (£1.6 million) and pre-tax profits of  $0.8 million (£0.5 million) on sales of  $36.6 million (£23.4 million).

Patrick Bradley, chief executive of Ingenious Ventures, the manager of IMAC, said: "We are delighted to deliver this significant transaction for IMAC and to generate a substantial return for IMAC shareholders. With IMAC’s support, DRG has grown, both organically and through acquisition, into a leading one-stop shop for the development, funding and distribution of television rights."

In a separate deal, Modern Times Group took a 51 percent stake in Novemberfilm for an undisclosed sum. The Oslo-based firm specializes in TV formats for the Scandinavian market. The company’s current management is staying on and will hold the remaining 49 percent of the group.

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The DRG sale represents the fifteenth transaction that Ingenious has advised on within the U.K. independent TV production and distribution sectors with a combined value of around $940 milllion (£600 million).

Across the wider entertainment industry, Ingenious has completed over 20 transactions underpinning its position as the pre-eminent advisor in the sector.

Modern Times Group also announced a major international executive shuffle, appointing Jette Nygaard-Andersen its new EVP of the group's Nordic pay-TV broadcasting operations, naming Peter Norrelund head of sport at MTG and promoting Jonas Karlen to the new role of Chief Operating Officer of Nordic pay-TV.

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