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Germany’s Beta Film, the TV production and sales outfit behind such series as Babylon Berlin, has made a major move northward, taking a majority stake in Finnish production company Fisher King and launching a new Swedish operation, Beta Nordic Studios.
The moves, announced on the eve of international television market MIPCOM on Sunday, will give Beta a significant beachhead in Scandinavia. The German group already has significant production operations or production partnerships in Germany, Spain and Italy.
Fisher King was set up in 2013 in Helsinki, by executive producer Matti Halonen and chief visual officer Miikko Oikkonen. They quickly established the company as a leading local play in high-end drama with series such as fantasy drama Nymphs and the Nordic noir Borderlands, both of which have sold well internationally.
Sweden-based BNS will act as a hub for Beta’s Scandinavian operations, working together with Fisher King and Dramacorp, the joint venture set up in 2016 between Beta and Swedish-French drama executive Patrick Nebout (Midnight Sun, Agent Hamilton). Beta Film executive vp Justus Riesenkampff and the newly appointed CEO Martin Hakansson, a former exec at Lagadère Sports and Nice Entertainment Group, will serve as directors of BNS.
BNS will focus on local scripted projects with an international appeal, which can be financed and sold via Beta Film’s international distribution network.
“Fisher King is a great fit because the co-founders and creators Matti Halonen and Miikko Oikkonen stand for some of the finest international drama series coming from Scandinavia,” says Riesenkampff.
Hakansson said Beta’s acquisition was not a mergers and acquisition “strip and sell mission,” but “the very opposite. Our mission is to combine the Nordic genius for production with Beta Film’s production experience and distribution power to create a joint venture that will deliver great, BNS-branded entertainment for years to come.”
He argued that despite the intense consolidation that has prevailed throughout the Scandinavian TV industry over the past few years, there were still opportunities in the region. “Fisher King is a fine example; it has succeeded in creating ratings-busting drama for the domestic market, while developing and delivering ideas strong enough to take on the world.”
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