Buyers circle as de Mol’s Talpa put on the block

The Voice UK was born out of the Dutch original

John de Mol’s Talpa has brought in Bank of America Merrill Lynch to advise it on a sale after confirmed interest from several potential buyers.

Rumours have been circulating in the past week that Talpa is on the block, and TBI has confirmed this morning that it has brought in financial advisors to examine several expressions of interest.

The interest is coming from “all corners of the world”, a Talpa source said. Financieele Dagblad, which first reported the news in Holland linked 21st Century Fox and FremantleMedia to moves for Talpa.

TBI understands there is also interest coming from China and that more than three parties are circling the Netherlands-based company.

The first Dutch reports suggested Talpa will fetch between €600 (US$772.5 million) and €1 billion. John de Mol, who has cancelled an appearance on Dutch TV tonight amid the talk of a Talpa sale, is thought to have dismissed the idea of selling at the lower end of that range.

demol_1Endemol co-founder de Mol launched Talpa in 2007. The firm has gone on to launch biggest breakout format of recent years, singing show The Voice, and more recently found international success with social experiment format Utopia.

Talpa also owns broadcasting assets in the Netherlands. Bank of America Merrill Lynch also advised the company on its deal to buy a 33% chunk of Dutch broadcaster SBS in early 2011.

Discovery is now understood to be keen to acquire the SBS majority stake from Finnish entertainment and publishing form Sanoma, and also de Mol’s stake, although both de Mol and Sanoma have both said they see SBS as a core asset.

The news comes as the latest twist in the current wave of consolidation sweeping the market. Shine is currently in the process of merging with de Mol’s former firm Endemol, with Core Media Group to be subsumed into Endemol following completion of the agreement. This would create the biggest international production and distribution group.

Elsewhere, All3Media is close to joining the Discovery stable in a £550 million (US$900 million) deal.