Banijay Suffers $62M Pandemic Earnings Hit Amid Heavier Losses At Global Production Rivals

EXCLUSIVE: Banijay was dealt a €51 million ($62M) blow to its earnings in 2020, as a clearer picture emerges of the financial damage wreaked on global production companies by the coronavirus pandemic.

Figures obtained by Deadline offer the first glimpse into Banijay’s trading performance after it completed the $2.2 billion acquisition of Endemol Shine Group last year, making it the world’s largest independent producer.

The Big Brother and Survivor group does not report earnings publically, but investor sources said its EBITDA dropped 13% from €385M in 2019 to €334M last year following ubiquitous production shutdowns across the world.

The trading update is not exactly ideal for a company forged at great expense to capitalize on the boom in global content, but sources close to Banijay said the group is quietly pleased that its performance compares favorably with other European producers.

Banijay, of course, was far from alone in being blown off course by the headwinds of Covid-19. ITV Studios was one of the first major producers to detail the damage, revealing in March that its EBITA dropped 43% to £152M ($211M) in 2020.

American Idol and Too Hot To Handle producer Fremantle was also thwacked by the virus. The RTL-owned production empire’s EBITA stood at €87M in the full-year 2020, down 39% on €142M in 2019.

Although it is eight times the size of Red Arrow Studios, Banijay’s performance was closer to that of the Love Is Blind group, which is owned by German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1. Red Arrow’s adjusted EBITDA dropped 12.6% to €42M last year.

Banijay declined to comment, but sources said that the group’s non-scripted strengths helped stand it in good stead after scripted shows were hit hardest by the production hiatus. International versions of Big Brother, for example, recovered quickly.

The trading update follows credit agency Fitch holding Banijay’s rating at B with a “negative outlook” in late March, largely because of its €2.4B debt pile.

“Banijay’s ratings reflect its highly leveraged financial structure due to incremental debt raised to finance the Endemol Shine Group acquisition and weakened performance in 2020 due to the pandemic,” Fitch said. “These are somewhat mitigated by Banijay’s ability to retain EBITDA margin thanks to its flexible cost structure and the partial realisation of integration synergies.”

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