Broadcasting giant ITV has bought a majority stake in Hostile Planet and Night On Earth natural history programme maker Plimsoll Productions in a deal worth around £103.5 million.
ITV acquired the 79.5% stake in the Bristol-based producer from private equity firm LDC, Plimsoll founder Grant Mansfield and other existing shareholders.
Mr Mansfield will continue to run the business and play a key role in programme development, ITV said.
Plimsoll is the producer behind series including Tiny World and Giant World for Apple+, Hostile Planet and Supernatural Planet for Disney, and ITV’s forthcoming A Year On Planet Earth.
ITV also has the option to acquire the remaining 20.5% in Plimsoll in future for up to £79.5 million, with the final price dependent on Plimsoll’s profit performance over the next four-and-a-half years.
Shares in ITV were 2% higher on Tuesday morning after the deal was announced.
ITV chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “Growing ITV Studios with an exciting pipeline of premium programmes is core to our strategy as we further diversify the business by genre, by geography, by customer and grow ahead of the market.
“Through Plimsoll Productions, as a studio, we can continue to capitalise on the growing demand for natural history and factual programming.”
The deal sees ITV pay £85.5 million to current shareholders for the stake and around a further £17.6 million to pay off Plimsoll’s debts.
Plimsoll was founded in 2013 and has produced content watched and sold across nearly 200 countries.
ITV said the deal marks a “further milestone in ITV’s strategy of expanding its international content business”.
As well as broadening ITV Studios’ production base, the move will also see it tap into Plimsoll’s strong network with global content streamers, it added.
Plimsoll also has a growing documentary and factual entertainment department producing for the likes of BBC, ABC, Channel 4, CNN and History.
ITV Studios already has a relationship with Plimsoll as the distributor for A Year On Planet Earth, narrated by Stephen Fry.