Merger ties in with Senator Entertainment’s restructuring strategy.
German Senator Entertainment and French Wild Bunch are planning to merge their activities to create a single, independent filmed entertainment distribution and production group.
“The proposed combination of these two independent distribution companies will create an attractive and strong group, well positioned to grow into a global player with capabilities across all distribution channels, from cinema to digital,” the companies said in a joint statement on Thursday.
Under the proposed operation, the new company would manage a library of 2,200 films and have consolidated revenues of more than €185m (according to 2013 figures).
“Senator Entertainment’s experience and assets in Germany combined with Wild Bunch Germany’s activities will make the new company, an even more powerful player on the largest media market in Europe,” the statement continued.
The new company would also work on expanding Wild Bunch’s existing presence in France (Wild Bunch Distribution and Wild Side), Spain (Vertigo) and Italy (BIM Distribuzione) as well as it international sales activities.
The merger also gives Senator direct access to new digital strategies through Wild Bunch’s increasingly successful VOD/SVOD platform FilmoTV.
The proposal follows a rocky 18 months for Senator in which CEO Helge Sasse stepped down in June after eight years in the role, following a fall in revenues and a record net loss for the company of $38m (€27.4m).
As part of a major restructuring, British investment group Sapinda has taken majority control of the company.
The proposed merger is subject to the approval of Senator Entertainment’s shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting, scheduled for September 2014.
Under the plan, the existing management teams of Wild Bunch and Senator will take over operational leadership of the group.
Thus, Wild Bunch co-founder Vincent Grimond will be the new CEO with fellow co-founders Brahim Chioua taking on the role of COO and Vincent Maraval, chief content officer. Senator’s Max Sturm will be chief financial officer.
The merger follows a long history of cooperation between the two companies on ventures such the jointly owned Berlin-based distributor Central Film Verleih to the acquisition of films such as The King’s Speech and The Reader.
“The new financially restructured Senator Entertainment benefiting from the strong support of its key shareholder Sapinda and of its stock market listing in Germany, is a perfect partner for the next phase of our company’s development,” said Wild Bunch chairman and CEO Grimond.
“This is a major step in our strategic and financial restructuring process,” said Senator’s Sturm. “One of our main goals for an even stronger Senator Entertainment is the internationalisation of our business. Combining with our cooperation partner Wild Bunch provides an excellent way to stabilise earnings and strengthen marketing power in a joint company.”
The business combination is to be carried out via a capital increase against contribution in kind, where all shares of Wild Bunch are contributed into Senator Entertainment. This measure will be put to a vote at September’s EGM.
“I am well aware that we demand a lot from our shareholders through the announced capital measures, but it is crucial for the financial recovery of Senator Entertainment,” said Sturm.