Zodiak TV’s ‘new era in TV content’
Italy’s De Agostini Group launched their new TV content division in London Nov 26. De Agostini is the highly successful insurance-to-publishing-to-gaming operation that’s now bringing together a cluster of TV production companies under the Zodiak Entertainment banner.
In essence Agostini has placed its assorted portfolio of well-known TV production assets into a single business, Zodiak Entertainment, with pro-forma revenues of some €400m – and which it is looking to at least double over the next three years to between €800m-€1bn, and with EBITDA of €130m-€150m. The three-year plan also factors in a public listing, says Lorenzo Pellicioli, Zodiak’s group president/CEO. Zodiak has heavyweight interests in Scandinavia, Russia, Poland and the UK as well as France and Italy.
The component parts of Zodiak comprise Marathon Group, Magnolia and either their own high-profile properties (like Fort Boyard and Saint Tropez) or licensed products which they produce on a local basis (like the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing format).
Pellicioli says they are also on the lookout for further acquisitions, although he ruled out acquiring national commercial broadcasters, especially the UK’s ITV. He argued that Zodiak needed to be opportunistic, but pragmatic especially in these times of uncertainty.
The parent company has earmarked a ”couple of hundred million” to invest for tomorrow. “There is simply no finance available [from the market],” Pellicioli stated, adding that Zodiak was especially keen to invest in suitable new media projects. “Our original intent WAS to go up the value chain and invest in broadcast distribution. But we see the future is based more in content than distribution. There’s a crisis in advertising, and the period to autumn 2009 could be very tough for broadcasters.”
Consequently, Zodiak would seek investments in the UK, the USA, Latin America and other emerging markets (“Where we are not as strong as we’d like to be”), said Pellicioli, and in particular be seeking top creativity in businesses where they had a competitive lead in the digital environment.
The new business would be headquartered in Paris and London.