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FremantleMedia backs Andreae indie

FremantleMedia backs Andreae indie

Simon Andreae has launched a London-based indie with a 25% investment from the increasingly acquisitive FremantleMedia. 

The former Channel 4 commissioner and Discovery executive has established Naked Entertainment in London after stepping down as head of alternative entertainment at US network Fox in January.

Andreae returned to the UK soon after leaving Fox and had conversations with “four or five” different production groups about launching an indie.

He said Fremantle was an attractive partner because it offered a high level of support and distribution expertise for a “relatively modest shareholding”.  Andreae added that he had been impressed with Fremantle chief executive Cecile Frot-Coutaz during his dealings with her in the US.

Andreae will maintain a relationship with his former employer after signing a first-look deal with the Rupert Murdoch-owned network for his US projects. Naked Entertainment is currently based at Fox’s UK headquarters on New Oxford Street in London and his two-year plan is to secure around half of its revenue from America.

For the moment, Andreae is focused on UK broadcasters and will soon be pitching up to six projects that he is passionate about. He said he has kept in touch with British talent, producers and tastes, and has been impressed with shows such as Gogglebox and First Dates during his spell in the US.

Andreae hopes to recruit “half a dozen” people over the next six months and will aim to make provocative factual and fact ent formats, in the vein of his Discovery format Naked and Afraid. “Inherent in the name [of my company] is a degree of straightforwardness and honesty about the types of programming we will make. I don’t like anything that’s too baroque or embellished. In a crowded market, the best ideas are simple, original and noisy.” he said.

The deal is Fremantle’s third investment in a matter of weeks. The company acquired a majority stake in fledging French drama indie Fontaram last week, while in August it helped its 25%-owned drama indie Corona TV launch a joint venture with Birds Of A Feather creators Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran.

Fremantle director of strategy and M&A Caroline Murphy said the acquisition spree was the result of many months of work after owners RTL and Bertelsmann gave the company the financial firepower to grow its global production footprint.

More deals are on the cards this year and Fremantle remains keen to grow its drama business.

Digital companies are also a priority after it acquired a majority stake in multichannel network Divimove in January, while Murphy would not rule out a “transformative” deal for a larger production group. “We’re careful investors, but we get a huge amount of financial support from our investors”, she said.