Viaplay Recap Plan Continues As CEE Producer Paprika Studios Exits Group

Viaplay’s Central and Eastern European production division Paprika Studios has exited the Scandinavian media group.

A management buyout led by Paprika CEO Ákos Erdős will return the Budapest-based producer to its indie roots, and marks the latest chapter in Viaplay’s strategy to recover from a financially devastating 2023.

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Selling Paprika was among the plans floated last week as part of a recapitalization program at Viaplay, which is targeting double-digit profit margins in five years’ time. Terms of the agreement were not revealed.

Paprika has been part of Viaplay since 2012, initially joining what was then known as Modern Times Group. After Viaplay decided to focus on its Nordic and Netherlands operations and a content strategy based on premium sports, acquired films and series and local non-scripted productions, Viaplay offered Paprika management the chance to buy back the business. An offer was received on January 10 and the transaction closed on Friday (January 19).

The recapitalization plan, agreed at an Extraordinary General Meeting, effectively rescued the company from collapse, with existing shareholders having their shared diluted. Canal+ and investment firm PFF have both taken 29% stakes in the company, which hit financial problems in 2023 and was forced to last off around a third of staff. After replacing CEO Anders Jensen with former MTG boss Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, it also pulled out of the UK, U.S. and Baltic region and effectively stopped all spending on scritped originals, which had been a pillar of its strategy to launch a Scandi-owned global streaming service.

We are pleased to close this transaction, which is in line with Viaplay Group’s business strategy,” Enrique Patrickson, Viaplay Group EVP, CFO and Head of Strategy and M&A. “The offer from Paprika’s management created the most value for Viaplay Group’s shareholders and made a swift process possible. We wish Ákos and his team all the best as they take Paprika Studios forward as an independent company.”

Paprika has bases in eight European countries and said it plans to “further strengthen cooperation with international streaming providers in addition to its television collaborations” under its new indie status.

The company has made shows for the likes of HBO Max, Netflix and RTL+, along with Viaplay, the UK’s Channel 5 and numerous European broadcasters. It has produced local versions of Survivor, The Voice, The X-Factor, Paradise Hotel, Dancing with the Stars, The Traitors and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!.

The change of ownership will open up new market opportunities for Paprika Studios. Furthermore, in addition to continuing our collaborations with several market-leading broadcasters, we will be able to deepen our partnerships with other international streaming providers,” said Erdős

“Our business strategy has always been based on the production of quality content, whether it is entertainment, fiction or reality productions, movie productions, or short films. This professionalism and commitment will be even stronger with the arrival of the management team as owners.”

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