Fremantle Media Acquires Majority Stake in 495 Productions

Posted by at 3:35 pm on March 26, 2014

sallyann-salsanoFremantle Media has acquired a majority stake in SallyAnn Salsano’s 495 Prods., home of “Jersey Shore,” “Party Down South” and other hit unscripted series. FremantleMedia has taken a 75% stake in the company Salsano (pictured) founded in 2006 with the option to acquire the rest down the road. The deal is the latest in a recent burst of M&A activity involving prosperous unscripted production entities such as Magical Elves and Half Yard Prods.

Financial details of the 495 pact were not disclosed but industry sources said the initial acquisition was valued in the $40 million-$50 million range, but will go higher if the remaining interest is bought out. FremantleMedia North America CEO Thom Beers said he had long admired Salsano’s work as a producer and her drive as an entrepreneur. Beers said he wanted 495 into the fold to help fill a gap in its production portfolio of docu-soap series aimed at women — which has been Salsano’s specialty.

“It’s such a big, strong space and SallyAnn owns it,” Beers said. “She understands that younger, edgier urban world. I’ve always loved what she does and how hard she works. She’s in the trenches. This is a woman who doesn’t mail anything in.”

Salsano has had offers to sell in the past but felt Fremantle was the right fit because of her professional association with parent company CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz. She also feels a kindred warrior-producer spirit with Beers. Beers was named FremantleMedia North America CEO in 2012, four years after the company bought his Original Prods. banner.

“Thom and I are not wallflower people,” Salsano said. “Our businesses are a lot alike — they’re based on our relationships in the industry and our work as a producers. I feel safe knowing that Fremantle will embrace the way I like to do stuff and that partnering with them will let me do what I love most, which is producing television.”

Salsano’s banner will retain its autonomy as a separate entity. (“I have no interest in interrupting that successful machine over there,” Beers said.) She recently signed a deal with Warner Bros. Telepictures Prods. to be an exec producer on the daytime syndie talkshow strip “The Real,” to bow in the fall.

“This deal will allow us to expand our share of the valuable U.S. cable market and will complement and diversify our existing portfolio of content and clients. Together, our ambition is to continue to grow 495 Productions in the US and to broaden its global footprint even further through our extensive distribution and production network,” Frot-Coutaz said in announcing the acquisition.

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