All3Media to crack the US by trade sale

THE TELEVISION production company behind Peep Show, Shameless and Midsomer Murders, All3Media, has called in UBS to undertake a strategic review of the firm as it eyes the US to fuel its global growth ambitions.

Following reports at the weekend that ITV has rejected the idea of buying the TV production group, the most likely outcome of the review is believed to be a sale of All3Media to a US broadcaster like Time Warner.

The group’s private equity owner Permira is understood to have set a minimum price target for the company that is considerably higher than the £600m price tag the market was expecting, based on the group’s 2011 forecast earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of £63m to £65m.

The firm already produces a number of shows in the US, including Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and the American version of Skins. Ownership by an American broadcaster is understood to fit with the company’s plans to improve its presence in the US, where turnover is expected to double this year.

All3Media is also looking to adapt further formats for the US, such as ITV2’s The Only Way Is Essex, and to become more active in the entertainment sector.

All3Media was founded by Steve Morrison, David Liddiment and Jules Burns in July 2003, after they bought the former Chrysalis TV assets with £45m from private equity firm Bridgepoint.

Following a string of acquisitions, the group was sold to private equity group Permira for £320m three years later, with management retaining a 40 per cent stake.

In the event of a trade sale, the deal – which will be completed this year – is likely to be structured to allow the management to receive an earnout, based on the business achieving set goals. Revenue for 2011 is forecast to grow 15 per cent to more than £450m.