ITV Studios to Acquire 80 Percent of 'Pawn Stars' Producer Leftfield for $360 Million

"Pawn Stars"

"Pawn Stars" is History's most-watched series and the highest-rated reality show on cable behind "Jersey Shore."

UPDATED: U.K. TV giant ITV says the deal makes its U.S. studio operation the largest indie producer of unscripted programming in the U.S.

ITV Studios has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Pawn Stars and Real Housewives of New Jersey producer Leftfield for $360 million.

U.K. TV giant ITV said the deal would make its U.S. production operation the largest indie producer of unscripted programming in the U.S.

ITV also said the deal will enhance its earnings from day one. 

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Leftfield and its joint venture produce more than 300 hours of unscripted programming for more than 30 U.S. networks. Other shows include Couting Cars and American Restoration.  

There are potential further payments and put-and-call options under the deal. Overall, ITV could end up paying as much as $800 million for full ownership of Leftfield, including the initial payment of $360 million. The companies said that the production firm recorded operating cash flow of $38 million in 2013.

ITV, whose flagship network is the U.K. home of Downton Abbey, has been expanding its ITV Studios unit to become less reliant on advertising revenue. 

Brent Montgomery will remain CEO of Leftfield. ITV CEO Adam Crozier lauded the latest deal in a slew of acquisitions. Over the past two years, ITV has also bought U.S. TV producers Gurney Productions, the company behind Duck DynastyCake Boss producer High Noon Entertainment; Hatfields & McCoys producer Thinkfactory Media; and Teen Wolf-maker DiGa Vision. It has also acquired U.K. producers The Garden and Big Talk, which made Shaun of the Dead.

"Leftfield is a fantastic success story, rapidly growing from a single pilot to become one of the biggest indies in the U.S.," Crozier said. "The team has combined creativity with strong production expertise, with over 70 percent of the business coming from returning series and a pipeline of new ideas coming through in 2014 and into 2015 that is really encouraging."

Twitter: @georgszalai