Viacom Acquires Minority Stake in Israeli TV Company Ananey

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It can later buy a controlling stake.

Viacom's Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) unit said Thursday it has acquired a minority stake in Ananey Communications Group, an Israeli pay TV channel provider and content producer.

Financial terms and the size of the stake weren't disclosed.  An analyst estimated the price tag at below $10 million. Under the terms of the deal, Viacom has an option to acquire a controlling stake in Ananey in the future.

VIMN senior vp, general manager for Central and Eastern Europe and Israel Bartosz Witak has joined the board of Ananey.

VIMN and Ananey are long-standing business partners in Israel, where Ananey licenses or represents Viacom’s global brands, including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. and represents Viacom’s programming sales and consumer products business.

Under the partnership, Nickelodeon has become Israel's No. 1 children's channel and, alongside Nick Jr., reaches 49 percent of the youth audience "due in large part to Ananey’s original local productions for kids and teens," the partners said.

Ananey also develops television formats and programs for both Israel and international TV markets, including Street Food Around The World, a food and travel show, and The Green Project, a sketch show. One of Ananey's flagship productions is its daily teen drama The Greenhouse, which has delivered record ratings for Nickelodeon in Israel. Netflix has struck a deal to create an English-language remake.

Ananey also produces digital and interactive content and applications, including the SpongeBob Master mobile app that is available in Israel and Hungary and is expected to launch in the U.K. this year.

"This deal will deepen our partnership with Ananey, which has delivered success for both companies over many years," said David Lynn, newly named president and CEO of VIMN. "We are delighted to cement our strong position in this valuable pay TV market and pursue new opportunities with a leading content producer in one of the most dynamic production sectors internationally. We have confidence that the Ananey team will continue to excel in the local and international market and we are excited about what the future will bring."

Udi Miron, founder and chairman of Ananey, added: "This partnership with Viacom is testimony to the strength and creativity of Ananey Communications Group. After years of successfully representing Viacom in Israel, we are honored to take this partnership one step further; we believe together we will achieve even greater success in Israel and internationally. We look forward to working with Viacom to create new horizons for the traditional pay TV market and for the dynamic digital world and leveraging the strong Israeli startup market to advance our shared digital vision."

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish is the former CEO of VIMN and is known for understanding international markets and opportunities.