Sony Pictures Television (SPT) is on the brink of acquiring Wallander producer Left Bank Pictures in a deal thought to be worth in excess of £40m.
Broadcast understands that the US giant is poised to make Left Bank the most ambitious addition to its portfolio of UK indies and bolster its scripted output.
The 2011 Broadcast Indie of the Year, run by Andy Harries [pictured] and Marigo Kehoe, put itself on the market in April and a deal with SPT is now only weeks from being finalised.
Left Bank is seeking around £40m – around eight times its forecast earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation for 2012. The deal is being brokered by About Corporate Finance.
SPT has been in pole position to land Left Bank for some time, with other suitors thought to have included ProSiebenSat1’s Red Arrow Entertainment Group and ITV Studios, where Harries was a drama controller until 2007.
Sources pointed to the role of Sony president of international production Andrea Wong in securing the deal.
It is understood that she was attracted to Left Bank as the only drama producer to have released a series (Strike Back) simultaneously in the UK and US.
Harries also has a good relationship with SPT chief creative officer Wayne Garvie, who took a 25% stake in the indie while at BBC Worldwide.
BBCW would be in line for a substantial windfall if it decides to sell, but insiders say it is expected to retain some involvement in the business going forward.
Separately, BBCW’s five-year distribution deal with Left Bank is up for renewal this summer, but it is understood that it will continue to distribute older series, while new content will be distributed by Sony.
Left Bank’s accounts for the 12 months to 30 June 2011 reveal it made 275 hours of programming, with revenues of £28.9m – up 36.6% on the year before. The indie’s pre-tax profits nearly doubled from £964,000 to £1.85m.
Wong has emphasised her ambitions to add to SPT’s UK production assets: Gogglebox, Victory Television and Silver River. At a Broadcast Business Breakfast last month, she said scripted content specialists were of particular interest.
SPT and Left Bank declined to comment.
This story was originally published by Broadcast.