Graham Norton’s company bought by ITV in deal worth up to £17m

Broadcaster acquires So Television, producer of presenter’s BBC1 show, in bid to beef up its programme-making business

Graham Norton’s production company, So Television, has been bought by ITV in deal that could be worth up to £17m, depending on its future profits.

ITV Studios will pay £10m upfront in cash for So Television, with up to a further £7m in cash payments dependent on the company’s achieving profit targets between now and 31 July 2016.

So Television, co-founded by Norton and producer Graham Stuart in 2000, makes shows including BBC1’s The Graham Norton Show and BBC2’s The Sarah Millican Television Programme. Norton and Stuart are likely to make more than £8m each from the deal, assuming the company hits performance targets.

ITV has been looking to buy independent producers to beef up its programme-making business as part of the five-year transformation plan drawn up by chief executive Adam Crozier and chairman Archie Norman in 2011.

The broadcaster was linked to a possible bid for So Television last year and has also looked at buying Gallowgate, Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly’s independent production company.

So Television made a pre-tax profit of £1.22m in the year to 31 July, a 42% year-on-year rise, according to the most recent filing available at Companies House. Turnover rose 37% to £11.9m.

The knock-on effect was a 34% boost in the amount paid to Norton, who took home £2.55m.

He took home a £400,000 dividend, down £100,000 on the previous year.

However, he took home £2.15m in “presenter fees, production fees and royalties”, a 40% increase on the previous year.

Norton said: “So Television has been our baby for 12 years, so I’m thrilled that the ITV family has decided to take it under their wing and help it blossom.”

The ITV Studios UK managing director, Denise O’Donoghue, said: “So Television is known for its creative rigour and intense quality-control across its programming, whether that is its crown jewel, The Graham Norton Show, or its newer but no less brilliant The Sarah Millican Television Programme.

The managing director of ITV Studios, Kevin Lygo, said: “This is an important acquisition for ITV Studios and demonstrates our strategy to increase our capability in the production of high quality television entertainment programming.”

So Television was advised by Ingenious corporate finance.

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