The makers of hot cable show Duck Dynasty have just cashed out. British television giant ITV announced today that it’s expanding its U.S. production arm ITV Studios America with the acquisition of Gurney Productions. ITV is paying $40 million for a 61.5% controlling stake in Gurney Productions, best known for Duck Dynasty as well as Auction Hunters, American Digger and Haunted Collector. ITV also has a put and call option to buy the remaining 38.5% which can be exercised from 3 to 5 years after the initial deal. “Gurney Productions is a high margin business with three quarters of its revenues coming from returnable series. The company’s EBITA for 2012 is forecast to be at least $10M,” ITV said Saturday. Gurney Productions will report directly to Paul Buccieri, Managing Director of ITV Studios International and President/CEO of ITV Studios America. Further, Gurney Productions’ revenues will be included in ITV Studio’s international revenues starting in 2013. Sources said the maximum total consideration payable by ITV is $111M, depending on the performance of Gurney Productions over the next 3 to 5 years and payable only if Gurney continues to deliver significant growth. ITV Studios America already produces Hell’s Kitchen, The First 48, Kitchen Nightmares, The Jeremy Kyle Show, The Bill Cunningham Show and Four Weddings. “The acquisition marks a significant step forward in building a strong international content business, a key part of ITV’s Transformation Plan,” ITV said. “It will strengthen and complement ITV’s existing position as a producer for major US television networks.” Gurney Productions was founded in 2005 by Scott and Deirdre Gurney and has become a leading independent producer of large scale returning series for US cable networks. The company’s portfolio includes Duck Dynasty – currently one of the biggest cable TV shows in the US.

Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of ITV, said in a statement: “Growing ITV Studios is a key part of our strategy to rebalance the Group. Our studios business is already showing strong organic growth and the acquisition of Gurney is an important step forward as we continue to expand our international production capability. We see the US as a key creative market and having a sizeable presence there is central to the expansion of our global content business. ITV Studios America has been growing revenues at around 20% for the last two years under the leadership of Paul Buccieri. Gurney is a great company with terrific programme brands, which will add scale to our already successful US business. Over the last seven years the team at Gurney has built a strong and growing pipeline of high end factual entertainment and reality programmes and I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Scott and Deirdre to the ITV fold where we believe the business can continue to develop and thrive.“

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