Telegraph bidder RedBird IMI in talks to buy UK’s largest independent TV production group
The Abu Dhabi-backed investment group that has struck a deal to buy the Telegraph is close to securing a £1bn-plus takeover of another prize UK media asset – All3Media, the TV production group behind shows including Call the Midwife, Squid Game: The Challenge, Gogglebox and Midsomer Murders.
RedBird IMI, a joint-venture between the US company RedBird Capital and International Media Investments (IMI) of Abu Dhabi, the investment vehicle for the UAE vice-president, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, is understood to be in advanced negotiations to buy the UK’s largest independent TV production group.
All3Media, which is headquartered in the UK but jointly owned by Warner Bros Discovery and Liberty Global, was put up for sale earlier this year.
The US media companies acquired the group – whose production company subsidaries make a wide range of the UK’s best-known shows including The Only Way is Essex, The Traitors, Geordie Shore, Derren Brown, Peep Show and Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares – for £550m in 2014.
RedBird IMI could enter exclusive negotiations before Christmas, according to the Financial Times, which first reported the news, although there is no guarantee that a deal will be struck.
The sale of All3Media has drawn interest from bidders including the French TV production group Banijay, Sony, Goldman Sachs, Peter Chernin’s North Road Company and ITV, which owns a significant programme making division in ITV Studios.
ITV, which like All3Media counts John Malone’s Liberty Global as a shareholder, had been considered the strategic favourite to seal a deal but walked away after balking at the asking price.
RedBird IMI’s deal to take control of the Telegraph and Spectator magazine is facing intense regulatory scrutiny, including an Ofcom investigation into press freedom issues raised by ownership by the UAE, and a probe by the Competition and Markets Authority. However, its potential takeover of All3Media is unlikely to provoke the same level of political and competition concerns.
All3Media, which is run by Jane Turton, reported revenues of more than £1bn and profits of more than £100m in 2022. It was formed in 2003 by the former ITV executives Steve Morrison, David Liddiment and Jules Burns, after they bought Chrysalis’s TV business for £45m. Over the past decade, the group has grown from 19 production companies to more than 50.
All3Media, Liberty Global and Warner Bros Discovery declined to