Stéphane Courbit’s group ready for major acquisitions

Stéphane Courbit’s group ready for major acquisitions

Steps complicated when going public about fifteen acquisitions in production, a World Cup generating large volumes of sports betting, the failed takeover of M6… The first months of life of FL Entertainment, Stéphane Courbit’s group, had a little something ” Koh Lanta “.

But for the first presentation of its annual results since its listing last July, FL Entertainment, parent company of Banijay and Betclic Everest Group, its director François Riahi had the smile of someone who has passed all the tests.

FL Entertainment, behind “Big Brother”, “Survivor”, “Peaky Blinders” etc., has a turnover of just under 4 billion euros in 2022, up almost 16%, above its objectives (3.8 billion). Adjusted EBITDA increased by 10% to 670.2 million euros, again higher than the group’s forecast (645 million).

The net result remains in loss (-81 million euros, against -71 million in 2021), taking into account accounting effects during the listing of the company in the form of Spac (Special Purpose Acquisition Company), in particular the reimbur*****t of a convertible bond from Vivendi (shareholder of FL Entertainment) and the distribution of shares to the “sponsors” of Spac. “The results attest to the strength of our business model,” says François Riahi.

Revenues and results were driven by production and distribution, which represent the bulk of the business (3.2 billion euros in revenue, up 16.5%). Banijay, the world’s leading independent producer since the acquisition of EndemolShine, in 2019 , saw its catalog jump by 30% over the year via the increase in production and its acquisitions. “We now have a catalog of 160,000 hours, or 18 years of programs,” smiles the boss of FL Entertainment. If the main part (75%) consists of entertainment, games etc. like “Koh Lanta”, “Masterchef” or “Big Brother” – which is also returning to screens in Great Britain – a quarter of its income now comes from fiction (“Marie-Antoinette” etc.). “We don’t always know it, but we are now the European leaders in the genre,” he adds.

“We do not forbid ourselves anything” in terms of acquisitions

FL Entertainment has mainly grown through external growth. In total, in 2022, he got his hands on fifteen companies in ten countries (Légende Films in France, Beyond International, the most important in Australia, etc.) for some 130 million euros (figure also including payments in 2022 for buyouts from previous years).

And he intends to continue on this path. “The sector is consolidating and we want to fully participate in it,” assures François Riahi. He thus wants to pursue medium-sized acquisitions, but also says he is “ready for transformative acquisitions. We have the financial capabilities,” he adds. The group reduced its debt during the year (with a leverage effect falling from 3.7 to 3.1).

Shops in other sectors? He “does not forbid anything in entertainment in the broad sense”, replies the general manager. These last few months, Stéphane Courbit notably made an offer on M6, shortly after the failure of the merger with TF1, and looked at the Editis file. “If there is an interesting opportunity, we will go,” said François Riahi.

As for sports betting, the other leg of FL Entertainment’s activity, it also grew (+12.7% to 835 million euros), boosted by the World Cup.

The group, 47% owned by Financière Lov (Stéphane Courbit’s holding company), Vivendi (20%) for its first shareholders, has set itself an EBITDA target of 710 million euros in 2023 and growing revenue. It will propose a dividend of 0.36 euros per share.

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