ITV Studios buys Leftfield for $360m

Pawn Stars image 3ITV Studios has made its largest acquisition in the US unscripted market to date by acquiring an 80% stake in Pawn Stars producer Leftfield Entertainment.

The deal comprises an initial cash payment of US$360 million, with further payments possible depending on what ITVS defined as “Leftfield’s continued delivery of significant profit growth”.

ITVS will have put and call options to buy the other 20% through which it will have a call option on the shares from three years after the initial deal and, and a put and call option at the end of year five.

Brent MontgomeryThe deal firmly plants ITVS as the largest unscripted production entity in the US, having previously completed deals for Duck Dynasty prodco Gurney Productions, Cake Boss firm High Noon Entertainment, Leslie Greif’s Thinkfactory Media and Teen Wolf creator Diga Vision.

The global production and distribution wing of UK broadcaster ITV defined this latest acquisition as a “major milestone” in its strategy to build out its international content business, and noted it now had a strong unscripted presence on both the East and West Coasts of America.

Leftfield’s Pawn Stars is History’s currently biggest unscripted series and runs to 104 episodes overall, while it is also behind shows such as The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Counting Cars and American Restoration.

The producer had been emerging as a major indie player in its own right, having acquired reality production companies such as Sirens Media, Loud Television and Outpost Entertainment.

These will continue to report into Leftfield founder and CEO Brent Montgomery (above left), who will continue to seek new partnerships and joint ventures.

“Leftfield is a fantastic success story, rapidly growing from a single pilot to become one of the biggest indies in the US,” said ITV CEO Adam Crozier (right).

Adam Crozier“The team has combined creativity with strong production expertise, with over 70% of the business coming from returning series and a pipeline of new ideas coming through in 2014 and 2015 that is really encouraging.”

“This is an incredibly exciting time at Leftfield, as our agreement with ITV marks a major milestone in the company’s evolution,” added Montgomery. “Two decades into the explosion of unscripted television, our business is changing more rapidly than ever.

“To continue developing aggressively for emerging markets, creating new genres and working with the most talented and inspired producers – both in the US and abroad – requires collaboration and partnership. Our teammates at ITV are in sync with Leftfield creatively and commercially, and I’m looking forward to working with them for the next five years and beyond. We’re confident that, together, we will continue to deliver breakthrough programming for buyers around the world.”

UK-based About Corporate Finance brokered the deal.