Buyers Circle 'The Voice' Producer Talpa Media

Ray Mickshaw / FOX

21st Century Fox's Shine and FremantleMedia have previously been seen eyeing John de Mol's Dutch group

Dutch media mogul John de Mol has put his production group Talpa Media on the auction block, with several major international media companies believed to be looking at the reality TV giant behind The Voice and Utopia.

Among the companies mentioned as possible candidates to look at a Talpa buyout are 21st Century Fox's Shine Group, which previously held talks with the firm, and RTL Group's FremantleMedia, the producer of The X Factor.

Talpa confirmed it had appointed Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise the company on a possible sell off after being approached by a number of possible suitors. “Talpa has noticed there is interest in the company from all parts of the world. No bids," Talpa spokesman Thomas Notermans told THR.

Dutch business newspaper the Financieele Dagblad estimates Talpa could fetch $770 million-$900 million (€600 million-€700 million). Talpa is fully controlled by John de Mol.

Talpa also holds a stake in Dutch broadcaster SBS, which Discovery Communications has been eyeing as part of its European expansion plans.

A Talpa sale would mark a further consolidation move in the reality TV business, which has seen several multi-million dollar buyouts of non-fiction production outfits. Major deals include Warner Bros.' $273 million acquisition of the international assets of Talpa's Dutch competitor Eyeworks (Celebrity Splash!) or Tinopolis' $100 million-plus buyout of Top Chef producer Magical Elves.

Quoting unnamed sources, the Financieele Dagblad says Shine made a $580 million (€450 million) bid for Talpa last year, an offer de Mol rejected. Shine declined to comment but a source familiar with the process said the company was one of several media groups that held talks with Talpa last year, though, according to the source, no formal offer was made.

Shine is currently busy with another deal as it is close to finalizing a joint venture deal with Big Brother producer Endemol (which de Mol co-founded) and American Idol parent company Core Media Group. If that deal goes through, Shine will not have the need for another deal, and for now, the company is focused on completing the three-way combination, a source said.

"We don't comment on speculation," FremantleMedia said.

Sept. 18, 11:43 a.m. Updated with FremantleMedia reaction.

Sept. 22, 01:45 a.m. Updated to correct an earlier version that stated Rabo Participations still holds a stake in Talpa. THR regrets the error.

Twitter: @sroxborough


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