Time Warner has made an unsolicited offer of €1 billion ($1.4 billion) for the Dutch TV company behind Big Brother and Deal or No Deal.
The Financial Times reports that the offer could spark off a bidding war between Time Warner and Endemol’s current owners, Mediaset, the Italian media empire controlled by Silvio Berlusconi.
Endemol spokesman Charlie Armitstead has confirmed the bid. "We have received an approach,” Armitstead told The Guardian. “It will now be put forward to Endemol's lenders to consider. It doesn't come as a surprise—Endemol is an attractive asset."
Mediaset led a joint venture to buy Endemol for $3.6 billion in 2007. Mediaset now owns around a third of the company. The consortium also consisted of Goldman Sachs and Cyrte, an investment vehicle run by Endemol’s co-founder John de Mol. But Endemol was left debt-ridden following the collapse of Lehman Brothers, which handled the sale.
Despite the drop in Endemol's value in the last four years, the company’s unscripted formats have been successfully exported worldwide.
Mediaset’s corporate website says that Endemol “has affiliated operations and joint ventures in 25 countries around the world."
In August Mediaset was reportedly in talks with ITV to buy the remainder of the company.
Armitstead, however, says the company remains focused on restructuring debt that was incurred in the 2007 purchase. The Time Warner bid "does not change anything,” Armitstead said, according to Reuters. “Our main focus is on reaching a solution with lenders. Those discussions continue to make good progress, and we are confident that an agreement would put the business on a firm financial footing.”