Change at Sparks Eccho as Keshet nabs Asia boss

Sparks Eccho Group has found a new Asian chief, with former incumbent Gary Pudney (pictured) moving to launch a new Hong Kong office for distributor Keshet International.

Gary PudneyLocal market veteran Nixon Yau Lim has joined Sparks Eccho Group as head of Asia.

Pudney, meanwhile, has joined Keshet Media Group-owned KI in the new role of head of Asia, reporting to KI CEO Alon Shtruzman and working closely with sales director, Asia and Latin America Kelly Wright.

Eccho’s new Asian chief, Yau Lim, is best known for selling shows including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire into Asia in the 1990s. He has already begun his role with Eccho and was with the firm at MIPCOM earlier this month, a spokeswoman said.

“We are excited about Nixon joining our company,” Eccho Rights managing director Fredrik af Malmborg told TBI. “He is a very good professional and will take over Gary’s responsibilities in Asia. In general, the business in Asia is developing very well; Turkish drama is going strong, especially in Indonesia.”

Earlier this year TBI broke the news Sparks Eccho was winding down its formats alliance Sparks Networks after the high-concentration of top-level mergers and acquisitions in the TV production market undermined the firm’s business model. The firm subsequently switched its focus to sales, where there has been a period of sustained growth.

Af Malmborg today told TBI Sparks Eccho still represents some former Sparks members, but mainly in drama.

Pudney has to this point been the key figure in the firm’s Asian sales business. “So far, our [worldwide] sales in 2015 are up by 250% compared to 2014, so all is going very well,” said af Malmborg.

Pudney had been with Sparks Eccho since 2010, initially joining as head of Spark Networks Asia before Ecchomedia acquired a majority stake in the business in February 2012.

While there, he was behind the sale of entertainment formats such as Crack Them Up into Asia, while he has also shopped Super Soccer Stars into the region while sales and marketing director of the now-defunct Galleon Holdings. He moved to Hong Kong from the UK to become managing director of Typhoon Media.

His most recent title at Eccho Rights was head of Asia Pacific.

Pudney’s hire at Keshet marks the latest move for the Israeli company, which earlier this month launched a gaming arm and has offices or ventures in the UK, Australia and the US.

“There is a misconception that international companies are only interested in exporting to Asia, but that’s certainly not the case for us,” said Shtruzman. “We’re looking to develop a fruitful, two-way exchange of IP into and out of Asia.

“With an office on the ground in Hong Kong, under the guidance of an experienced and capable executive like Gary, we are well positioned to build on our success to date and become active in all major Asian markets.”

KI has recent licensed comedies Traffic Light and Loaded to China’s Huace-Croton Media, as TBI first reported during MIPCOM. Talent format Rising Star, meanwhile, has aired in Indonesia on RCTI and China on CCTV, among other deals.