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ITV snaps up Shaun of the Dead production company Big Talk


The film production company behind Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World's End has been snapped up by ITV for £12.5 million.

Actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are among shareholders who will gain from the sale of Big Talk as ITV continues its strategy of buying up independent film and television makers.

The company, which is also responsible for Channel 4 comedy series Friday Night Dinner as well as the BBC's Rev and Him & Her, had been 25% owned by the BBC's Worldwide arm before today's move.

It was founded in 1995 by Nira Park, producer of Channel 4's Spaced, the critically-acclaimed series which featured Pegg and Frost and was directed by Edgar Wright.

The trio, who went on to collaborate on Big Talk's most well-known films, are among a group of investors sharing a 10% stake in the company, who will gain just over £150,000 each from the sale.

But it is Park together with chief executive Kenton Allen and managing director Matthew Justice who stand to net the most - jointly owning a 65% portion valued at £8.1 million by the sale.

The initial payment of around £12.5 million is dependent on Big Talk's 2012/13 financial performance, with additional payments linked to profits over the next five years.

ITV said it was one of the UK's fastest growing scripted film and television production companies and responsible for some of the most successful comedy and cutting edge drama of recent years.

Friday Night Dinner, Rev and Him & Her are all expected to return to screens over the next six months while forthcoming TV commissions include Ambassadors, starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb, for BBC2.

Under the new agreement, ITV Studios Global Entertainment will distribute all of Big Talk's new television content and help the company grow internationally, especially in the US market. BBC Worldwide will retain the global distribution rights to Big Talk's back catalogue and future UK series based on those programmes.

ITV chief executive Adam Crozier said: "The acquisition of Big Talk represents another important milestone as we continue to grow our production base and invest in creative talent."

Kenton Allen said: "After an amazing five years of very rapid growth we're delighted to have found a dynamic new partner to help us realise the untapped potential that exists at Big Talk."

It is one of a number of ITV deals to buy production companies, which have helped revive its studios business, fuelling the group's progress despite sluggish advertising markets.

In June it pumped 30 million US dollars (£19 million) into a majority stake in Thinkfactory Media, the producer behind award-winning American western drama Hatfields & McCoys.

In May it also bought a controlling stake in US reality TV maker High Noon Entertainment for at least £16.7 million.