Under the terms of the deal, NBCU will acquire 100% of the company’s shares, which are split between Southern Star (75%) and Carnival CEO Gareth Neame (25%). The exact financial terms were not disclosed.
NBCU hopes that Carnival -- which produces Hotel Babylon for the British Broadcasting Corp. and Midnight Man, Harley Street and the upcoming Whitechapel for ITV -- will open up the U.K. market.
"International growth is one of our key strategic priorities, and that includes boosting our ability to create programming for specific local audiences around the world,” said Jeff Zucker, chairman and CEO of NBCU, in announcing the deal. “This acquisition will jump-start our efforts in the very important U.K. market. Carnival has a great track record, and we are excited about helping this first-class operation to become even more successful."
The deal also includes rights to the back catalog of programming, as well as distribution rights currently held by Southern Star.
Once the acquisition is complete, Carnival will be merged into NBCU’s international-TV-production division, managed by its president, Angela Bromstad, in London.
The deal is part of NBCU’s strategy to more than double its non-U.S. revenue by 2010, and it follows the acquisitions of Sparrowhawk Holdings and a 26% stake in India’s NDTV. NBCU also launched global versions of its channels, including Sci Fi Channel.