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RTL Seeking ‘Strategic Alternatives’ for BroadbandTV, Including Potential IPO

Variety logo Variety 1/31/2017 Todd Spangler
© Provided by Variety

RTL Group announced that it has decided to explore strategy alternatives for BroadbandTV, the internet-video company in which it holds a majority stake.

The European entertainment conglomerate invested $36 million in BroadbandTV in 2013, giving it a controlled 51% stake in the Vancouver-based multiplatform network firm. RTL, whose holdings include FremantleMedia, said Tuesday it has decided to not exercise its option to acquire the remaining 49% of BroadbandTV in order to pursue “all strategic alternatives for the company.”

The parties have enlisted investment bank LionTree to lead the process. Possible scenarios for BroadbandTV include a sale of the company, additional outside investors, or an initial public offering.

Shahrzad Rafati (pictured above), founder and CEO of BroadbandTV, said the decision to explore strategic alternatives was an “amicable” one between RTL and the company’s other shareholders. Rafati is the largest shareholder in BBTV after RTL (she declined to disclose the size of her ownership stake) along with other individual investors.

“All parties we have a shared perspective that BBTV is a valuable asset,” Rafati said in an interview. “This is very exciting for us, because it allows us to consider all strategic alternatives as it relates to determining the best outcome for shareholders, employees, customers and the entire ecosystem.”

BroadbandTV is one of the biggest video distributors on the internet, generating north of 22 billion monthly video impressions across its owned-and-operated library and brands as well as across its network of 85,000 content creators. BBTV’s array of services include advertising sales, subscriptions, apps, merchandise and content licensing.

Throughout the review process, business will continue as usual, Rafati said. BroadbandTV has not integrated any of its operations with RTL, and as a standalone entity “it puts us in a different category,” she said. BBTV has received inbound M&A inquiries from various companies, Rafati said, but declined to identify them.

As for BBTV’s valuation, Rafati said LionTree will be evaluating that as part of its strategic review.

BroadbandTV’s key brands include gaming network TGN, Opposition (hip-hop music), WIMSIC (electronic dance music), HooplaKidz (kids and family) and Outspeak (its citizen-journalism brand in partnership with AOL’s Huffington Post). BBTV last year announced NBA Playmakers, a fan-focused basketball video network in partnership with the NBA, and recently inked a pact with Univision Communications to manage YouTube channels as well as plans to launch in eight countries in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

RTL, which is itself majority-owned by Germany’s Bertelsmann, has interests in 60 TV channels and 31 radio stations, along with FremantleMedia’s content production operations and digital-video businesses including fashion and lifestyle network StyleHaul.

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