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Bridgepoint to Merge with Marathon

European private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital has signed a merger deal with Marathon, which will create a major new production and distribution group in France, reports C21 and was confirmed by Bridgepoint Capital (which also owns production giant All3Media).

Bridgepoint's French division, Financière Héra (Finhera), has been pursuing Marathon. Finhera is lead by Eric Licoy, previously a top executive at Vivendi Universal when Jean-Marie Messier was ceo.

Following a period devoted to standard auditing procedures, Finhera will buy an unspecified stake in Marathon and eventually become the holding company for the four French TV companies it now has shares in.

Finhera owns 100% of Télé Images, which in turn is a 66% shareholder of primetime drama producer GTV (headed by Christian Charret). Finhera also has a majority stake in entertainment producer Adventure Line Prods.

Finhera will become a company with its own management board and supervisory board, C21 confirmed with Bridgepoint. Marathons Pascal Breton will become president of the management board with ALPs Denis Mermet and Marathon Animations Vincent Chalvon-Demersay reporting to him. Finheras Licoy will preside over supervisory board.

It remains to be seen if Bridgepoint will bring its new French production/distribution group together with the U.K. production giant All3Media, which it bought from Chrysalis two years ago.

All3Media has production units in the U.K. (Lion TV, North One Television, Bentley Productions, Cactus TV, Mersey Television and Company Pictures), the U.S. (Lion USA), New Zealand (South Pacific Pictures), plus IDTV's production arms in Germany, Holland and Belgium.

Paris-based Marathon (www.marathon.fr) was founded in 1990 by Olivier Brémond and Pascal Breton. In 1999, Chalvon-Demersay joined the Group in order to develop animation production. Marathon International, which was also created in 1990, is the Group's international sales division; it distributes both Marathon's programs and acquisitions from other producers around the world. Thórunn Anspach heads this company.

Bridgepoint is a leading provider of private equity with a 25-year track record of investing in businesses that will achieve long-term capital growth. Independently owned and managed by a team of experienced private equity practitioners, Bridgepoint has raised to date more than 6 billion from leading third party institutional investors and has a broad mix of holdings including automotive, household goods, construction, software and computer services.

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