Beyond buys Seven Studios UK and the rest of US-based 7Beyond

Mikael Borglund.

Beyond International has acquired the UK arm of Seven West Media’s Seven Studios and SWM’s 51 per cent stake in Los Angeles-based 7Beyond.

Both Seven Studios UK, headed by Damon Pattison, and 7Beyond will be re-branded as Beyond Productions and will report to John Luscombe, Beyond Productions’ general manager and exec VP.

As part of the deal, Beyond gets the international format rights to Pooch Perfect and the UK and Australian versions.

Striving to reduce SWM’s debt of more than $540 million, in February CEO James Warburton appointed investment bank Morgan Stanley to conduct a strategic review of Seven Studios after receiving a number of “partnership inquiries.”

Warburton said on Thursday: “As part of our ongoing transformation, we’ve reassessed our appetite for investment in offshore production interests and have elected to divest Seven Studios UK and our interest in the 7Beyond JV.

“Our longstanding relationship with Beyond International makes them a natural partner to acquire these assets. As part of the divestment, Seven will retain a participation in current projects, as well as all onshore production interests.

“Seven is proud of these two businesses and the projects that came out of them and welcomes the strengthened business arrangement that will continue with Beyond.”

The acquisition was facilitated through Beyond Entertainment, the group’s Irish subsidiary which in April acquired UK distributor TCB Media Rights for the bargain price of $A3.8 million from the administrators of Canada’s failed Kew Media Group.

Beyond did not reveal the purchase price in its statement to the ASX and nor did SWM, which suggests the deal is not material to either’s earnings.

SWM retains Seven Studios’ biggest assets, its Australian and New Zealand businesses, but is expected to sell UK-based Slim Film + Television, which is producing a big budget, eight-part re-imagining of the Jules Verne classic Around the World in 80 Days, to its founder/MD Simon Crawford Collins.

As part of a restructure, Seven Studios CEO Therese Hegarty announced her resignation in May and Seven’s director of production Andrew Backwell took on responsibility for Seven Studios.

Niki Hamilton, the executive producer of children’s TV, left to joined Banijay-owned Screentime as executive producer.

Network casting director Georgina Harrop and development executive Vanessa Oxlad also departed, followed by Michael Horrocks, the executive producer of comedy, who created the upcoming narrative comedy Fam Time.

The 7Beyond LA-based joint venture, established in 2013, is producing season 11 of My Lottery Dream Home, currently on hiatus due to the pandemic, for US cable network HGTV.

Its other credits include Tiny Food Fight (Facebook Watch), Holiday Gingerbread Showdown (Food Network) and Hip Hop Houdini (Fuse).

Seven Studios UK, which is producing Pooch Perfect for BBC1, was recently commissioned to film a two-part pilot series of My Lottery Dream Home International for HGTV.

Mikael Borglund, CEO and MD of Beyond International, said: “This is an exciting time for Beyond. We have already expanded our distribution business this year with the acquisition of TCB Media Rights and its extensive catalogue. Now we are adding to and strengthening our production capabilities in two of the world’s creative centres.”