U.K. TV giant ITV said Tuesday that it has agreed to acquire a majority stake of 79.5 percent in natural history TV program producer Plimsoll Productions for approximately £103.5 million ($126 million) in cash.
The deal values Plimsoll at an enterprise value of £131 million ($150 million). Founded in Bristol in 2013, it has produced hundreds of hours of content watched and sold in nearly 200 countries.
“Through Plimsoll Productions, as a studio, we can continue to capitalize on the growing demand for natural history and factual programming,” ITV CEO Carolyn McCall said.
The producer is behind series 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 landmark series A Year on Planet Earth for ITV, Tencent in China, Fox Nation in the U.S. and Ard Group in Germany.
“This acquisition is a further milestone in ITV’s strategy of expanding its international content business,” the company said. “It further diversifies ITV Studios’ production base and will enable ITV to take advantage of the strong demand for content across the ever-popular natural history and factual genres. Plimsoll Productions’ has a strong network with all of the global streamers, and this acquisition will strengthen and deepen ITV Studios’ relationships with the streamers.”
ITV also lauded the Plimsoll team. “Under the leadership of founder Grant Mansfield, Plimsoll Productions has built a track record of delivering a strong operational and financial performance, it said. Following the transaction, CEO Mansfield and senior managers and creatives will continue to manage the business and “play a key role in program development to maintain Plimsoll’s strong creative pipeline.” They will work alongside ITV Studios managing director Julian Bellamy, Angela Jain, director of unscripted, U.K., and their team.
“Plimsoll Productions is also expanding across the premium unscripted space with growing documentary and factual entertainment departments producing for major network/platforms, including BBC, ABC, Channel 4, CNN, History and Hulu,” ITV also noted. ITV Studios already has a relationship with Plimsoll as the distributor for A Year On Planet Earth.
ITV will acquire 79.5 percent of Plimsoll’s share capital from private equity firm LDC, Mansfield and other existing Plimsoll shareholders. This includes £85.5 million ($104.2 million) payable to the existing shareholders and the repayment of Plimsoll’s financial net indebtedness at completion, expected to be approximately £17.6 million ($21.4 million).
The outstanding 20.5 percent of share capital will be held by Mansfield and other members of the management team and strategic investors of Plimsoll. The deal sets up call and put arrangements that will give ITV the option of acquiring the remaining stake, with the price dependent on Plimsoll’s profit growth performance in the period to December 2027. It is capped at £79.5 million ($96.8 million) and payable from 2028 onwards.
“The significant opportunities in the international premium unscripted market make this the perfect time for Plimsoll to join ITV Studios,” said Mansfield. “There is a quite special strategic and cultural fit that will enable us to achieve our, now shared, creative and commercial ambitions for Plimsoll.”