Bunim-Murray acquired by France's Banijay

Reality hitmaker will expand in international marketplace

French production company Banijay Entertainment is acquiring reality hitmakers Bunim-Murray Prods., whose credits include "The Real World" and "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."

Bunim-Murray's founder Jonathan Murray will continue as chairman and lead creative development, while president Gil Goldschein will remain to tackle corporate initiatives. The company will likewise continue to be based in Los Angeles under the same name.

What's changing is that Banijay will help the 20-year-old Bunim-Murray expand into the international marketplace. Bunim-Murray will have access to the company's international formats, and Banijay will distribute Bunim-Murray's formats to other territories.

"Bunim-Murray is one of the few companies with a proven history of delivering high volumes of entertaining and quality programming that strikes a chord with viewers and are continually renewed by networks season after season," Banijay chairman Stephane Courbit said. "This acquisition reaffirms Banijay's strategy to integrate in our group the best and most creative international television producers."

Bunim-Murray has been on the market for some time, with the company's value pegged to about $50 million-$70 million. Dutch company Talpa Media came close to acquiring it last year. Murray, along with his late partner, Mary-Ellis Bunim, are credited with launching the modern reality genre with "Real World" in 1992.

“By joining Banijay, BMP will be able to continue its past success as well as access international formats and distribute its series and formats to the international marketplace," Murray said. "I’ve spent the last year and a half getting to know Stephane Courbit and his Banijay team and am convinced they are not only good people but the best people to help BMP reach its goals.”

The deal follows the acquisitions of several domestic reality companies by larger entities in the past couple of years -- including Shine Group's purchase of Reveille, Endemol USA's purchase of a controlling stake in Cris Abrego and Mark Cronin's 51 Minds, FremantleMedia North America's acquiring a stake in Thom Beers' Original Prods. and Tom Forman's joining Relativity Media.

Previously, Chris Cowan and Jean-Michel Michenaud dissolved their Rocket Science partnership to join Banijay, a company created in 2008 by Courbit and private investors including Agnelli family (Fiat), the De Agostini family, Jean-Paul Bize (AMS Industries) and Bernard Arnault (LVMH).