Sky swoops for majority stake in Bake Off firm

 
Oliver Smith
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BROADCASTING group Sky has taken a 70 per cent stake in independent production company Love Productions, the firm behind shows such as The Great British Bake Off.

Love was founded in 2004 by Richard McKerrow and Anna Beattie, and last year its Great British Bake Off became BBC Two’s most-watched programme in a decade, with an average 8.4m viewers tuning in to watch.

Love’s portfolio includes documentaries Baby Borrowers and Benefits Street with production bases in London, Bristol, New York and Los Angeles.

“This is a significant step for our growing international content business,” said Sky’s managing director of content Sophie Turner Laing. “Love is one of the UK’s most innovative and creative independent producers with a track record of success across a range of genres, both in the UK and globally.”

Sky said that Love will “operate as a distinct company under its new ownership structure”, continuing to make content for all major UK broadcasters.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it comes as part of Sky’s strategy to “grow a broad, international content business spanning broadcasting, production and distribution”.

Meanwhile Sky is reportedly finalising plans to take over its sister companies in Italy and Germany in a deal that could be sealed in coming weeks. The so-called Sky Europe move would see BSkyB, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia combined turning BSkyB into a pan-European satellite-TV giant.

BSkyB shares fell 1.47 per cent.

LOVE PRODUCTIONS’ NEW MILLIONAIRE

In less than a decade, Love Productions has gone from new kid on the block to a powerhouse churning out hit shows ranging from Benefits Street to the Great British Bake Off.

The man behind the venture is Richard McKerrow, a veteran of ITV, Channel 4 and Maverick Television.

He established Love Productions in October 2004, and will be popping champagne corks on its 10th birthday in three months’ time.

A key part of his appeal for Sky is his success in transporting UK shows like The Baby Borrowers to the US – while Sky has recently been leading a surge of US programmes like Game of Thrones over to UK audiences.

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