KKR Buys Universum Film, Continues to Build German Business

February 25, 2019 4:22AM PT

Days after buying Tele Munchen, private equity group KKR has made another major German move, acquiring producer and distributor Universum Film from RTL. KKR is creating a German-based content group and Universum becomes the second company to become part of the fledgling outfit.

Universum is a 40-year-old company that started out in home entertainment before moving into film distribution in Germany in the early 2000s, handling titles including “The Hateful 8,” “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” “The Little Ghost,” and “Vice.” It also majors in kids’ and anime content and runs a pair of SVOD services. In all, it has rights to 3,700 titles.

Bernhard zu Castell will remain CEO of Universum. “It’s great to be part of such an ambitious team and to contribute our strengths to building Germany’s largest independent content platform,” he said. “This will allow us to fully exploit the potential of Universum and take advantage of the great opportunities that this platform will bring.”

“I am proud that we have come one step closer to realizing our vision of creating something truly new and unique in the German entertainment industry,” said Philipp Freise, head of the European TMT team at KKR. “Universum ideally complements our platform, delivering tailor-made content to viewers through cinemas and homes.”

He added: “With Universum and TMG, the platform is already one of the best in the industry in many areas. We want to build on these strengths and drive its growth further.”

KKR’s new German operation is headed by German entertainment business veteran Fred Kogel. Former ProSiebenSat.1 exec Markus Frerker has also signed on and becomes COO.