Endemol buys Southern Star

Production house Endemol is nearing “giant” status in terms of international TV production, with the acquisition of the Southern Star production and distribution business from Australia’s Fairfax Media.

The A$75-million-plus-earn-out deal is conditional on regulatory approvals but should complete by the end of this quarter.

Southern Star has long been one of Australia’s key drama production houses, with 14,000 hours of drama programming including soap hit Home and Away. It is the drama that Endemol wants – Southern Star Factual, which is based in the UK (and known previously as Oxford Scientific Films) will stay in Fairfax ownership.

Distribution business Southern Star International will also move to Endemol, as will Fairfax’s 49% stake in the company’s joint venture with the purchaser, Endemol Southern Star.

Fairfax only purchased the production house in late 2007 as part of a deal with Macquarie Media to buyout the Southern Cross Broadcasting group, which owns rural television stations and radio assets.

Fairfax will make A$120 million from the sale of Southern Star together with a recent deal to sell Carnival Film and Television, part of the Southern Star group, to NBC Universal. The company, which owns radio, newspapers and online assets in Australia, owes some A$2.5 billion and will use the cash to pay down some of its debt.