Endemol Shine Germany, Max Wiedemann and Quirin Berg have sold their joint venture W&B TV to KKR-backed Leonine.
Wiedemann and Berg will remain as managing directors of W&B TV under Leonine, which was created from the merger of Tele München Group, Universum Film and i&u TV and already owns W&B Film. Berg becomes chief creative and chief production officer at Leonine. Wiedemann will serve as chief production officer and chief business development officer. Together they will lead scripted across film, TV and co-productions at Leonine, where they are now shareholders.
Fred Kogel, CEO of Leonine, said, “We are delighted that, following the acquisition of Wiedemann & Berg Film, we have now succeeded in acquiring W&B TV. In doing so we have integrated two of the most innovative and successful production companies in Germany into Leonine and we have completed the management board with Quirin and Max. Since we started to shape Leonine together, we have jointly had the ambitious vision of a one-stop-shop for premium content. As part of the team with KKR, Atwater Capital and our management colleagues, we are co-founders of Leonine and I am very much looking forward to working together.”
Philipp Freise, co-head of KKR’s private equity business in Europe, added, “With the acquisition of W&B TV, we have completed Leonine’s foundation. There is hardly any other German media company with a comparable position in the production business. On this basis, Leonine will not only be able to grow successfully in this disruptive environment but also actively shape this market.”
Wiedemann and Berg noted, “We have been producers and entrepreneurs for 20 years and have long dreamed of a German studio that offers film production, theatrical distribution, television production, licensing and entertainment. With Leonine, this idea is now becoming reality. Fred is an outstanding CEO and we are very happy about the quality and dimension of the partnership with him, Philipp Schaelli, KKR, a fantastic team and many great creative people. The constant development of our ideas and possibilities has always been an essential force for us and we are now happy to be able to shape this exciting and challenging era together.”
The transaction is expected to close in early 2020.
Endemol Shine Germany is setting up a new scripted company in Berlin to be run by Nanni Erben, currently managing director of W&B. Erben and her Berlin team will continue to produce for the domestic and international markets, working closely with Endemol Shine Group’s network of drama production companies.
Magnus Kastner, CEO of Endemol Shine Germany, noted, “With the amazing Nanni Erben on board, the outstanding experience and expertise of her team, and our international production colleagues to collaborate with, we are well placed to build on the success story from Berlin and I personally am happily looking forward to an exciting cooperation with Nanni. We want to warmly thank Max and Quirin for the years spent together and wish them all the best for the future.”
Erben added, “I would like to thank Quirin and Max and the entire Wiedemann & Berg team for the exciting and inspiring time and for the great collaboration. I am now looking forward to the new challenges that I will be facing as managing director of the newly founded Berlin company. I would particularly like to thank Magnus Kastner and Endemol Shine for the trust in me. Together with my fantastic team, we will continue to stand for a successful and extraordinary program.”
Wiedemann and Berg said, “Our joint venture has been a very successful chapter for Endemol Shine, as well as us. We want to thank Magnus Kastner, Ute März, Boudewijn Beusmans, Sophie Turner-Laing and all colleagues at Endemol Shine for the excellent partnership. With great appreciation and respect, we look at the common achievements, for which our thanks go to Nanni Erben, our amazing team and our many companions in particular.”