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TWI to Acquire Factual Indie Darlow Smithson.

LONDON -- TWI, the world's largest independent producer and distributor of sports programming, and Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP), the multi award-winning London based factual independent production company, today announced that they have reached agreement for TWI to acquire DSP.

TWI, an IMG Media company, will finance the acquisition entirely with capital from parent company IMG, the world's premier Sports, Entertainment and Media Company.

The acquisition significantly expands TWI's non-sports production output, enabling it to become a market leader in high quality factual programming, as part of its continuing growth strategy.

For DSP the agreement enhances its position as one of the top global factual production companies and gives access to new opportunities and new technologies.

Key to the acquisition is DSP's outstanding worldwide reputation as an innovative factual programming leader delivering ground-breaking documentaries, series and docu-dramas with a growing annual output of more than 100 hours and an annual turnover of GBP 20 million. In a global peer poll just released DSP has been named as one of the seven most notable companies in the world in non-fiction production, selected for its inspirational and trendsetting programmes.

DSP's programme portfolio includes multi episode returning series I Shouldn't Be Alive (Channel 4, Discovery US), Seconds From Disaster (NGC/NGCI) and C4 documentaries The Falling Man , Blitz: London's Firestorm and The Somme. DSP's Touching the Void was the UK's most successful ever theatrical documentary.

Alastair Waddington, TWI's Senior Vice President Production and Business Development said: "We are delighted to acquire such a prestigious company as Darlow Smithson Productions, whose reputation in the factual arena inspires admiration all over the world. The respect that DSP commands from global broadcasters and clients is reflected in its growing stature, increased turnover year on year and more than 25 international awards to date. DSP harnesses some of the industry's most creative and technical talent, and we look forward to its continued success and growth, while maintaining its distinctive identity as a producer of top quality programming."

John Smithson, DSP Executive Chairman and Creative Director, said "This is an exciting opportunity for us at the right time in the growth of our company. The Darlow Smithson name remains - same people, same creativity, same editorial standards. But going forward it will bring much more. TWI and IMG Media will provide us with an extensive international structure to help us grow DSP, including areas like new media where it has significant experience, strengthening our relationships with clients and enhancing our creative development."

Ted Forstmann, Chairman and CEO of IMG, said: "IMG is already a major player in worldwide distribution, rights management and multi-platform exploitation including new media, and the acquisition of Darlow Smithson Productions will enhance the company's global assets and help us achieve our growth ambitions. Going forward, we are prepared to invest in development and production of content, and intend to pursue additional innovative business partnerships in order to maximise those goals."

Editor's Notes:

About IMG and TWI

IMG is the world's premier Sports, Entertainment and Media Company. IMG is a diversified global business with two major business segments: IMG Sports & Entertainment, and IMG Media. IMG employs over 2,300 people in 30 countries. Forstmann Little & Co. purchased IMG in 2004.

IMG Sports & Entertainment includes consulting services; event ownership and management; fashion events and models representation; broadcasting; golf course design; client representation in golf, tennis, baseball, hockey, football, European football, rugby, cricket, motorsports, coaching, Olympic sports and action sports. In addition, IMG Academies are the world's largest and most successful, multi-sport training and education facilities.

IMG Media, which includes our TWI subsidiary, is recognized as a global leader in the delivery of new media services, with Internet, broadband and mobile expertise, transforming how audiences access and interact with content. In addition, IMG Media produces and distributes over 9,000 hours of content annually, including award-winning television and radio programming, over multiple platforms across 200 countries and covering more than 240 sports. It also represents the broadcast rights to many of the world's premier sporting events and has the world's biggest sports archive with more than 200,000 hours of footage.

More information about IMG is available at

About Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP)

DSP is widely regarded as an industry leader in high quality factual programming and has achieved worldwide recognition for its ground-breaking documentaries, series and docu-dramas. It currently produces more than 100 hours each year. Turnover in 2005/6 will double to around GBP 20m.

It enjoys strong relationships with leading broadcasters in the UK, US, Germany, France, Italy and Australia, including Channel 4, BBC, ITV, Five, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, PBS and The History Channel. Unusually for a British independent producer, over 75% of its sales come from outside the UK.

The quality of its work has been recognized with over 25 international awards from a raft of prestigious organisations including BAFTA, British Independent Film, US and International Emmys, and the Royal Television Society.

DSP has unrivalled expertise in the use of advanced computer graphics and quality dramatic reconstruction, and its own post-production department. Its substantial experience in HD filming makes DSP one of the UK's largest HD TV producers, at over 25 hours of high budget network programming in 05/06.

DSP's first feature, TOUCHING THE VOID, is the UK's most successful theatrically released documentary ever. The film has already won the British Academy award for Outstanding British Film of the year, Best Film at The Evening Standard British Film awards, Best Documentary and Best Technological Achievement at the British Independent Film Awards, as well as a further 9 international awards.

DSP's programme portfolio includes the star-studded docu-drama E=MC2 (WGBH, Arte and Channel 4), THE GUNPOWDER PLOT (ITV) and TSUNAMI: The Unstoppable Wave (BBC1, Discovery US, ProSieben, Discovery International). Their production THE LAST DRAGON (Animal Planet and Channel 4) is the most watched programme ever broadcast on the US Animal Planet Channel and was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards last year.

More information is available at
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Apr 6, 2006
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