'Big Brother' maker agrees deal with Rupert Murdoch's Shine

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The Independent Online

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox is set to merge parts of its business with Core Media Group and Endemol, the maker of Big Brother.

Fox has agreed to place its TV production company Shine – which is chaired by Murdoch's daughter Elisabeth – in a joint venture. The broadcasting giant will control 50 per cent with the other half managed by private equity giant Apollo, owner of Core Media and Endemol.

"The parties have entered into a preliminary agreement, subject to a number of conditions," Fox said in a statement. "There can be no assurance that the proposed transaction will be completed."

The terms of the deal were not disclosed but the move could hand Elisabeth Murdoch more power after her brothers James and Lachlan were given expanded roles at Fox and the family's publishing empire, News Corp.

"It is unclear at this point if Shine on its own can reach the scale it needs," Paul Sweeney, a Bloomberg Industries analyst, said. "Forming a new, larger venture with Endemol and Core Media may allow it to reach scale and greater profitability sooner."

Endemol has been struggling to find a solution to its large debt pile for the last two years after creditors failed to reach an agreement over a potential restructuring.

Apollo recently acquired more than €600m (£490m) Endemol debt from RBS, Centerbridge, Lehman and Goldman Sachs in the European secondary market, increasing its stake in the business from under one-third to more than two-thirds. In 2012, Apollo bought out Endemol's biggest lender at the time, Barclays, in a bid to push through a debt restructuring and pave the way for a possible sale of the business.

Experts said the combined business would look to spread its hit shows across the globe. These also include American Idol and Deal or No Deal.