ITV plc announced on May 7 that it has agreed to acquire a controlling interest in Leftfield Entertainment Group from its founder and CEO Brent Montgomery. This acquisition, which has already gained regulatory approval, makes ITV Studios US Group the largest unscripted independent producer in the U.S. and will be earnings enhancing from day one.
Leftfield is a fast growing U.S. independent producer of reality programmes who sold its first series in 2008. Leftfield also owns Sirens Media and has established two joint ventures – Loud Television and Outpost Entertainment. Together these businesses produce more than 300 hours of unscripted programming for over 30 U.S. networks. The portfolio includes Pawn Stars, Counting Cars, American Restoration and Real Housewives of New Jersey.
ITV will make an initial cash payment of $360 million for 80% of Leftfield, with further potential payments dependent upon Leftfield’s continued delivery of significant profit growth.
Leftfield delivered $38 million of EBITDA on a proforma basis in 2013 and ITV expects it to continue to deliver strong growth at a high margin into 2014 and beyond as the benefit of its acquisition of Sirens and its new joint ventures start to come through.
There are put and call options in place to buy the remaining 20% of Leftfield, under which a call can be exercised 3 years after the initial deal and a put and call at the end of year 5. The total maximum consideration for 100% of Leftfield is $800 million, including the initial payment. This would only be paid if Leftfield delivers average EBITDA of at least $130 million per annum between years 3 and 5.
The acquisition of Leftfield represents considerable progress in ITV’s strategy of building a strong international content business, particularly in the U.S. It gives ITV Studios a significant presence on both the east and west coasts and strengthens and complements ITV’s existing creative capability.
Brent Montgomery will remain CEO of Leftfield Entertainment Group under ITV’s ownership.