Dutch Firm Endemol Snaps Up Company Behind Israeli 'Big Brother'

Endemol takes majority stake in Kuperman Productions, which will become Endemol Israel.

The Dutch television production and distribution company Endemol signed an agreement Sunday to acquire a majority interest in Israel's Kuperman Productions, owned by Elad Kuperman and Ynon Kreiz.

Endemol developed the global blockbuster format "Big Brother," as well other reality shows including "Fear Factor," "1 vs. 100," "Deal or No Deal," "Extreme Makeover" and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" The Endemol group owns 80 companies in 31 countries.

Endemol will buy out the entire interest held by Kreiz, Endemol Group's former chairman and CEO, plus less than 1% of Kuperman's shares to gain control of the company. Its name will be changed to Endemol Israel, with Kuperman remaining at the helm.

Kreiz left Endemol in June 2011, after the company amassed debts of $3 billion. They exceeded $4 billion in 2012, when Endemol was forced to restructure its obligations to lending banks.

Kuperman Productions was founded in 2005. It produces the local version of "Big Brother," one of Israel's most popular TV shows, for the Channel 2 franchise-holder Keshet. Television series developed by Kuperman include "Ramzor" ("Traffic Light"), Uri Geller's talent search "The Successor" and "Living in La-La Land."

Under the deal Endemol will provide Kuperman with resources to develop new formats for the Israeli market. Kuperman will represent Endemol in Israel and produce the group's international shows locally. This could have a profound effect on the Israeli market, as other local companies currently produce Endemol's show formats.

Endemol's expansion into Israel comes after several shows developed locally were picked up for distribution or remakes abroad, often with great success. At MIPTV 2013, held in Cannes in early April, Israel was championed as one of the world's most creative and active markets for television content.

Endemol is the second international TV production company to expand into Israel, after the acquisition in May 2012 of July August Productions by Germany's ProSieben.

Reuters