KKR Buys Universum Film in German Acquisition Spree

Courtesy of The Weinstein Company
'The Hateful Eight'

The private equity group last week acquired German mini-major Tele Munchen Group with an eye to creating an independent audiovisual platform for the German market.

Private equity powerhouse KKR is wasting no time in building up its new independent content platform for the German market, on Monday closing its second big acquisition by buying producer/distributor Universum Film.

The deal follows the acquisition by KKR last week of Munich-based mini-major Tele-Munchen Group.

KKR says it will combine the two companies — along with further acquisitions to come — with the goal of building up an independent content production and distribution platform for the German-speaking market.

KKR acquired Universum from RTL Deutschland, the German arm of pan-European TV giant RTL Group. Bernhard zu Castell will stay on as Universum CEO.

One of the country's leading independent distributors, Universum has a rights library of some 3,700 titles, including German rights to such recent features as The Hateful 8 and Vice. But Universum is primarily a home entertainment company and, like most in the sector, has been hard hit by the decline in the DVD market and the rise of Netflix.

Announcing the deal, KKR said the acquisition of Universum brought it “one step closer to realizing our vision of creating something truly new and unique in the German entertainment industry."

In a separate announcement, Fred Kogel, the CEO of KKR's nascent platform, named Markus Frerker the company's chief operating officer. Frerker held the same position in German TV group ProSiebenSat.1.