ITV Completes Acquisition of Natural History TV Producer Plimsoll for $127 Million

ITV Completes Acquisition of Natural History TV Producer Plimsoll for $127 Million

U.K. broadcaster ITV has completed its acquisition of leading natural history program producer Plimsoll Productions by taking a majority 79.5% stake.

The deal, which was revealed by Variety last week, values Plimsoll at £131 million ($161 million) and ITV will pay £104 million ($127 million) in cash for the stake.

Founded in Bristol in 2013, the BAFTA, Emmy and Academy award winning Plimsoll has produced hundreds of hours of content including “Tiny World” and “Giant World” for Apple+; “Hostile Planet” and “Supernatural Planet” for Disney; “Night on Earth” and “Animal” for Netflix and the upcoming series, “A Year on Planet Earth” for ITV, Tencent in China, Fox Nation in the U.S. and ARD Group in Germany.

Under the leadership of founder Grant Mansfield, the Plimsoll team includes chief creative officer Martha Holmes, creative director Tom Hugh-Jones, Karen Plumb as head of factual entertainment; and Richard Klein, former head of ITV Factual, and head of documentaries at the BBC. Following the transaction, Mansfield and his team will continue to manage the business and work alongside ITV Studios MD Julian Bellamy, director of unscripted, U.K., Angela Jain, and their team.

ITV will acquire the stake from private equity firm LDC, Mansfield and other existing Plimsoll shareholders. The cash consideration includes £85.5 million payable to the existing shareholders and the repayment of Plimsoll’s financial net indebtedness at completion, expected to be approximately £17.6 million.

The remaining 20.5% of share capital will be held by Grant Mansfield and other members of the management team and strategic investors of Plimsoll. ITV will have the option of acquiring this.

Plimsoll generated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of £10 million for the 12 months to Aug. 31, 2021. Under ITV’s ownership, Plimsoll will report to a calendar year and under ITV’s episodic revenue recognition policy. On this basis Plimsoll is forecasted to deliver EBITDA of around £5.5 million for the second half of 2022.

Mansfield said: “The significant opportunities in the international premium unscripted market make this the perfect time for Plimsoll to join ITV Studios. There is a quite special strategic and cultural fit that will enable us to achieve our, now shared, creative and commercial ambitions for Plimsoll. We’re excited to be part of ITV Studios’ expanding global force in content and delighted that, from today, this powerful new partnership is officially active.”

Carolyn McCall, CEO ITV, said: “Growing ITV Studios with an exciting pipeline of premium programs is core to our strategy as we further diversify the business by genre, by geography, by customer and grow ahead of the market. Through Plimsoll Productions, as a studio, we can continue to capitalize on the growing demand for natural history and factual programming and I am really pleased to welcome Grant and the team.”

Julian Bellamy, MD, ITV Studios, said: “Grant and the team at Plimsoll bring years of unrivalled experience in the creation and production of outstanding and award-winning natural history and factual programs. I’m delighted to welcome them to ITV Studios – their addition to the group strengthens our position in supplying the best shows across all genres to buyers around the world.”

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