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ITV to Buy Leftfield Entertainment Majority Stake for $360M

U.K. media company ITV has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in U.S. television producer Leftfield Entertainment for $360 million. The deal, announced Tuesday night, is the latest in a series of ITV acquisitions that includes U.S. companies Gurney Productions, High Noon Entertainment, Thinkfactory Media and Diga Vision, and U.K. companies So Television, The Garden and Big Talk—all purchased in the last 18 months.

Founded by CEO Brent Montgomery, Leftfield Entertainment is a suite of unscripted-television production companies responsible for series such as Pawn Stars and The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Montgomery told B&C in March that he founded Leftfield Entertainment—expanding from his own Leftfield Pictures via the purchase of Sirens Media and the formation of joint ventures Loud Television and Outpost Entertainment—to compete with European production companies that were growing their U.S. footprints through acquisitions.

“I thought, ‘Instead of selling, why can’t I become one of the buyers?’” Montgomery said at the time.

Leftfield’s first series sold was Pawn Stars, which premiered on History in 2008. Other shows produced under the Leftfield umbrella include Counting Cars and American Restoration. The company has 26 series commissioned for 2014.

With a $360 million initial cash payment, ITV will acquire 80% of Leftfield Entertainment. If Leftfield Entertainment meets certain performance benchmarks, the price can increase by an undisclosed amount. ITV will also have the option to buy the remaining 20% at a later date.

Last September, ITV launched a U.S. division—ITV Studios U.S. Group—to encompass its holdings in the United States.

“Leftfield is a fantastic success story, rapidly growing from a single pilot to become one of the biggest indies in the U.S.,” said Adam Crozier, chief executive of ITV plc. “The team has combined creativity with strong production expertise, with over 70% of the business coming from returning series and a pipeline of new ideas coming through in 2014 and 2015 that is really encouraging.”