British content giant FremantleMedia, a subsidiary of Bertelsmann's RTL Group, has acquired 51% of the shares in Israeli production company Abot Hameiri. The value of the deal is believed to amount to several million dollars. Abot Hameiri will become a FremantleMedia development and production arm, and FremantleMedia will own the Israeli formats to be developed, and will distribute them worldwide. In addition, Abot Hameiri will represent FremantleMedia in Israel.
FremantleMedia is one of the world's largest developers and producers of formats. It owns content brands such as X Factor, Pop Idol, and Got Talent.
FremantleMedia operates in 29 countries, broadcasts 350 programs a year, and generates over 10,000 broadcasting hours. FremantleMedia has been considering the Israeli content market, which has attracted major global interest, for several years.
The connect with Abot Hameiri began when it acquired the distribution rights to the Next Generation 24/7 format produced by FremantleMedia. FremantleMedia expressed interest in acquiring Channel 10 in 2014 for NIS 35 million. Various international companies have representative offices in Israel.
The most prominent deal signed to date was by FremantleMedia competitor Endemol, which acquired a controlling interest in Elad Kuperman's production company (Big Brother) in 2013, and bought shares in Channel 2 franchise holder Reshet the same year.
Other companies confine themselves to representative offices, since acquiring an Israeli content entity is likely to restrict work with other players in the market. Owning significant content brands will tie them specifically to one production company, could affect the entire market, and will definitely arouse concern among other producers and distributors that their access to content will be restricted.
Abot Hameiri is owned by Eitan Abot and Guy Meiri, who will continue to manage it. The company was founded a decade ago, and has since produced local versions of successful international formats, such as X Factor (Reshet), Survival (Channel 10 at that time), The Amazing Race (Reshet), Beauty and the Geek (Channel 10), and The Bachelor (Channel 10). Abot Hameiri has also produced original content, such as It Girls (HOT Israeli Entertainment), TLV (HOT Israeli Entertainment), and Winning Couple (Channel 10), which have been successfully sold around the world.
Abot Hameiri Barkai Productions, a subsidiary, produces high-quality drama series, such as Shtisel and Srugim (DBS Satellite Services (1998) Ltd. (YES)). Amazonas, produced for the Keshet franchise holder, will go on the air this year. FremantleMedia COO and Developing Market CEO Sangeeta Desai said, "Israel is a very creative market, and this acquisition gives us many opportunities for local cooperation. What especially attracted us were Abot Meiri's creative and production capabilities, and adapting them to the group's values."
Eitan Abot and Guy Meiri responded jointly, saying, "We are delighted about the artistic and commercial possibilities that joining forces with FremantleMedia gives us, and we are confident that this measure will lead to growth and mutual expansion."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 21, 2016
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