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November 2015 – Broadcast: Tinopolis

11 November, 2015 | By Jake Kanter



Tinopolis has pulled the plug on its sale process because none of its potential suitors could “give us what we needed”.

The Question Time super-indie was put on the market late last year for around £300m and the process was overseen by TV sector broker About Corporate Finance (ACF).

Tinopolis, which owns companies including Mentorn Media and Sunset + Vine, is understood to have entertained offers from NBC Universal, Entertainment One, Zodiak Media and Sweden’s Modern Times Group

Executive chairman Ron Jones told Broadcast: “ACF came up with the usual suspects – some would pay the money and some wouldn’t.

“But none of them gave us what we needed, which was a partner that gave the individual companies what they were looking for in terms of developing their business.”

Vitruvian Partners owns 48% of Tinopolis and Jones said the private equity firm “doesn’t have to exit for another three to four years”. Instead, the super-indie is happy to focus on growth.

“We’re fairly relaxed to be where we are. We’re not in a weak position and have some really good companies in the group. We have a nice balance between the US and UK,” he told Broadcast.

“It’s not an urgent issue. If the right buyer came along, would we consider it? Of course. We have a responsibility to our shareholders.”

The company’s latest accounts show it doubled pre-tax profits to £14m in the year to the end of September 2014 on the back of a 43% rise in revenues to £145m.

Jones added that the sales process gave him an “interesting insight” into the demands of the group’s 15 companies, which are run by teams holding equity in the wider business.

“Increasingly I realised they were looking for a fair valuation, but also a structure that allowed them to prosper creatively and financially,” he said.

Going forward, Jones said Tinopolis is keen to grow its intellectual property having hired Sky entertainment commissioner Chris Brogden as creative director in April.

But he stressed the company remains committed to the sort of production contracts that Sunset + Vine has built a reputation for winning. The sports indie holds a £100m deal to produce BT Sports’ Premier League and rugby league coverage.

“We’re great believers in having a mix of type of work. When we were listed we were constantly preaching the benefits of long-term contracts and they have stood us in good stead over the years. They provide you with a financial stability that is so often absent in some production companies,” Jones said.

“If you’re dependent on IP then you are going to have bad years. But if you can balance that with three to five year deals, in any sphere, it makes the financial management company so much easier. It makes you a relatively safe company in a high-risk industry.”