Permira-backed All3Media set for US exit

The UK buyout firm will reap a 1.6x return from the sale to a new platform established by two US media giants.

UK-based private equity group Permira is set to seal an exit from UK TV production company All3Media at the second attempt, with a sale to a joint venture established by US companies Discovery Communications and Liberty Global. 

The transaction, which is expected to be announced on Friday, will see All3Media become the first acquisition of a new international TV platform created by the two US media giants. 

This is the second time All3Media has gotten close to a sale.  Permira had initiated a process in the summer of 2011, but it ultimately fell through.  The firm is expected to reap a 1.6x return on this sale, according to a source familiar with the situation.  

UK-based All3Media is the creator of some of Britain’s most popular television shows. Permira bought the business from Bridgepoint in 2006, and has since more than doubled revenues to over £500 million, while shifting the management of the company from its founders to a broader management team. It has also expanded from its original UK base to become an international provider, through acquisitions including Optomen Television, Objective Productions and MME Moviement.  

The firm also made a substantial investment in building a US production business through the establishment of a West Coast hub, which today accounts for almost 25 percent of group production revenues. All3Media now has operations in the UK, the US, Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand.  

Liberty Global also owns Virgin Media, and plans to continue its international expansion through this platform.  The company, which is already under regulatory scrutiny for its potential acquisition of Dutch television programmer Ziggo – a deal that would be worth €4.9 billion – reported a 70 percent increase in first quarter revenues during an earnings call yesterday.  

Discovery, for its part, reported slightly tepid results after its recent international buying spree cut into earnings.  It also owns other US networks including Animal Planet.