Media localizer BTI Studios acquired two Italian dubbing studios on November 30, 2018. La Bibi and Multimedia Network are based in Rome and were both part of the Recandub group, a syndicate set up by the two companies in 2017. The terms of the deal, which was advised by PwC, were not disclosed.
The acquisition sees private equity owned BTI Studios, which was founded in 1995 by former CEO Björn Lifvergren, further expand its geographical presence into Italy, a territory that Lifvergren described as having “become saturated in recent years, with many new players setting up shop” in an email interview with Slator.
Lifvergren stepped down as CEO and took up a Board seat in August 2018. He has now moved into an additional role as head of BTI’s acquisition team as the company steps up M&A activity, having also acquired dubbing studios Creative Studios (Netherlands) and Berliner Synchron (Germany) in recent months.
Slator 2018 Language Industry M&A and Funding Report
From its 25 dubbing facilities across Europe, Asia and the US, BTI Studios provides audiovisual localization services to broadcasters, film studios and video-on-demand (VoD) platforms. Their customers include the likes of BBC Worldwide, Discovery Networks, Turner, NBC Universal, Disney, Netflix and Hulu, according to the company press release.
La Bibi was started in 1990 and now has 18 full-time employees. The company now dubs some 1,400 of hours per year and focuses on cinema, TV and commercial content, including the Sopranos and Peppa Pig, the press release said. Multimedia Network was founded in 1999 and has 12 employees. Among its dubbing productions are Sherlock and Doctor Who, the press releases confirmed. Lifvergren, who Slator reached out to for comment on the deal, said that there is some client overlap between BTI Studios and the newly acquired companies since they “are also working with many major broadcasters and distributors.”
Part of Recandub
Slator also spoke to Gianni Galassi, President of La Bibi, who said that “LaBiBi.it was owned by eight partners comprising seven individuals (all of them personally involved in LaBiBi’s activities) and Multimedia Network, while Multimedia Network was a single-partner company owned by Nicola Bruno.”
LaBibi General Manager Giulia DeAngelis and Multimedia Network CEO and owner Nicola Bruno will both stay on to lead the two studios for BTI Studios. Aside from sharing an owner in Bruno, the two companies have a prior relationship in that they are both part of Recandub, “a syndicate formed by La Bibi and Multimedia in 2017 in order to join forces when going out into the international market. Its role as a marketing tool is now totally absorbed by BTI,” Galassi said. The syndicate involved merging “management, organization, scheduling, traffic, and IT departments to ensure the businesses are structured in a way that works best for our clients,” Galassi added.
The company declined to disclose whether or not La Bibi and Multimedia will continue to operate as separate brands or be integrated under the BTI brand, but did share that the combined BTI Studios group now has 550 employees.
“We’re seeing clients favour the owned and operated model when choosing localisation suppliers, which gives them more control and transparency over the production of local dubs” — Björn Lifvergren, Founder and Head of Acquisitions, BTI Studios
Expanding on the rationale behind the deals, Lifvergren also told Slator in the email interview that the company has observed “an increase in demand from our clients for Italian dubbing for all platforms including theatrical release,” which prompted the La Bibi and Multimedia acquisitions. “Like Germany, Italy is one of the defining markets for the global dubbing industry,” he added.
Explaining the company’s recent focus on expanding its in-territory dubbing capabilities, Lifvergren also said that “we’re seeing clients favour the owned and operated model when choosing localisation suppliers, which gives them more control and transparency over the production of local dubs.”
Perhaps hinting at more acquisitions to come, Lifvergren commented that “we’ve aligned the BTI Studios acquisitions strategy with our customers to establish presence in all the major dubbing markets, particularly FIGS [France, Italy, Germany and Spain].” According to the company’s website, BTI already has a presence in Paris (France). Recent deals have seen BTI acquire local dubbing activities in Germany and now Italy, but the company does not appear to have any footprint in Spain (yet).
With four sizable acquisitions in less than two months, BTI Studios is set for a substantial revenue boost heading into 2019. However, the company declined to provide an outlook on revenue for La Bibi, Multimedia Network, Creative Studios and Berliner Synchron or to provide a pro-forma number for combined 2018 revenues.