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Banijay hires Endemol Shine pair in Finland rejig

Banijay Group is merging its Finnish assets with those of Zodiak Media, splitting its scripted and unscripted divisions, and hiring a pair of Endemol Shine execs in the process.

Banijay Zodiak Nordic CEO Jacob Houlind

Banijay Zodiak Nordic CEO Jacob Houlind

The move sees Endemol Shine Finland creative directors Tatu Ferchen and Alex Laszlo named CEO and chief creative officer, respectively, with both also named executive producers.

Banijay Finland CCO Martti Sivonen will become vice-president and executive producer of the merged group, with scripted programming led by Teea Hyytiä under the Zodiak Finland brand.

The merged Banijay-Zodiak Finland is now among the territory’s top three content players, with revenues in 2015 at a combined €15 million (US$17.1 million).

Its creation comes after the new-look Banijay Group was established as a merger of the previous Banijay and Zodiak, with LOV Group, De Agostini and Vivendi the key shareholders.

The company is currently putting together its local teams, with sales arm Zodiak Rights now largely restructured – unofficially – and Banijay Zodiak Nordic, which houses Scandinavian and northern European assets, established.

New Finnish chief Ferchen counts Endemol Shine Finland-produced series such as Married at First Sight, Masterchef and Gogglebox on his CV, and has also worked at Nelonen, Story Of, Moskito and Zodiak.

Laszlo has been with Endemol Shine for five years, and has worked for both Banijay and Zodiak in the past.

Sivonen, meanwhile, has been with Banijay Finland for three years, working on show such as The Voice of Finland, Temptation Island and I Can Do That. He has also worked at Solar Television and, according to Banijay, is known as “the guy with the highest IQ in Finnish television”.

Scripted chief Hyytiä has run Zodiak Finland for the past 15 years, and has produced more than 200 hours of television drama and three feature films. The current slate includes YLE drama The President.

Banijay Finland will sit within Banijay Zodiak Nordic Group, whose CEO, Jacob Houlind (pictured), said: “To secure the highest level of creativity and fulfill the potential within both non-scripted as well as scripted content we have decided to split the activities in two. We are just as ambitious on both sides of the business and Teea is right now looking to recruit new people to join her team in the journey going forward in the scripted space.”

“Our joint entertainment activities will enable us to work on some of the biggest and most loved entertainment shows on television at the moment, but also to offer a wide range of fresh new shows from the numerous catalogues now under one roof,” said Ferchen.

The local merger will take effect on May 1, when Ferchen and Laszlo begin their roles and move into the Zodiak Finland premises along with Banijay Finland.

Further appointments and final organisational lay-out will be announced soon.