Viacom buys Telefe for US$ 345 million

MUMBAI: Viacom Inc, the owner of Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central, in an attempt to expand its Latin America footprint, has signed a deal to buy Argentina’s largest broadcast network Telefe from the telecom carrier Telefonica SA for US$ 345 million (Rs 2336 crore) in cash.Through a network of channels, Telefe reaches 95 per cent of Argentina’s households.

The deal to purchase the Spanish-language content producer, that commands 33% Argentina’s TV audience share, is part of Viacom's plan to upgrade its market in Argentina and Latin America.

It is the first major announcement after Viacom’s new acting president and CEO Bob Bakish joined and it comes on Day 1 of his being elevated from his international distribution position. Viacom owns Cartoon Network and MTV among other channels.

The buy, funded with cash from international operations, not adding to Viacom debt load, will be accretive to Viacom’s 2017 earnings.

Operating eight regional channels throughout Argentina and streaming services , Telefe International, a pay TV service that is functional in 17 countries, also owns 12 production studios. Its content is distributed in 35 languages in 100 nations. It has close to 33,000 hours of content in its library, while churning out around 3,000 hours annually.

Bakish said that Telefe was an outstanding broadcast and production business, and the acquisition would give a fillip to their growth strategy in Argentina. The buy brings Viacom significant resources that spread beyond the core broadcast network and beyond Argentina’s borders.

In around 50 years, Viacom would become the first American company to operate a FTA (free-to-air) channel in Argentina.

Sources indicate that some of the shows from its Spanish language could find traction on Viacom18's English language Colors Infinity and as fiction and non-fiction formats on the local language channels it runs jointly with Reliance Industries in India.

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