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South Korean television giant JTBC Studios is entering the U.S. market by acquiring wiip, the production company behind the HBO hit Mare of Easttown, Apple TV+’s Dickinson, and the forthcoming HBO series The White House Plumbers.
The sale is directly related to talent agency CAA’s franchise agreement with the Writers Guild of America last year.
The deal marks a high-profile entry to the U.S. for the Korean production company, given the critical and viewer response to some of wiip’s projects. Mare of Easttown ended its season on Sunday night.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but CAA, which had been the majority owner of wiip, will remain a minority shareholder in the studio. Private equity firm Atwater Capital will sell its stake in the company as part of the transaction.
CAA and the Writers Guild of America signed a franchise agreement in December to bring an end to the writers-agents strike and allow CAA to once again represent WGA members.
As part of that agreement, CAA and its private equity backer TPG agreed to put the agency’s stake in wiip into an irrevocable blind trust, with the trustee tasked with selling that stake, according to a letter outlining the deal sent to WGA members.
Under the franchise agreement, CAA and TPG are not permitted to have a greater-than-20 percent ownership interest in wiip any other affiliate production company. So while CAA’s new minority stake in wiip isn’t being released, it would need to be 20 percent or less to be compliant with the WGA agreement.
Wiip is led by CEO Paul Lee, who was previously ran ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios for The Walt Disney Co.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to see our partners at JTBC Studios recognize the tremendous creativity coming out of wiip and significantly increase their investment,” said Lee in a statement. “We look forward to doing more business together in the US, Korea and the rest of the world to attract the highest level of talent together.”
“The US market is the heartland of the content business,” said JTBC Studios CEO Si Kyoo Kim in a statement. “We expect this partnership to bring a significant opportunity for JTBC Studios to make our first step into this dynamic market, for which we have yearned for a long time. We believe that this partnership between outstanding creative talents at JTBC Studios and wiip will deliver an unprecedented experience for a global audience.”
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