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Genius Brands Takes Stake in YFE

With Canada’s WOW! Unlimited Media Inc. firmly in the company’s stable, media company moves to increase European and global streaming foothold by acquiring 28.6% of Your Family Entertainment AG; former Disney executive Paul Robinson tapped to guide and oversee international growth of Kartoon Channel!

Following Genius Brands International, Inc. (Genius Brands) recent acquisition of Canada’s WOW! Unlimited Media Inc., the company has announced an agreement to acquire a 28.6% interest in Your Family Entertainment AG (YFE), to be followed by a mandatory tender offer of the outstanding shares of YFE. A large European distributor and broadcaster of programs for children and families, YFE brings to the deal a global streaming and broadcast footprint on satellite, cable, OTT, and terrestrial networks. The transaction, alongside the recent acquisition, will expand Genius Brands’ catalogue, giving it a streaming foothold outside the United States in Europe and the rest of the world. The announcement was made jointly by Andy Heyward, Chairman & CEO of Genius Brands, and Dr. Stefan Piëch, CEO of YFE.

Subject to YFE shareholder approval, YFE will be renamed Genius Family Entertainment AG, and will operate its children’s networks under the brand Kartoon Channel! Worldwide. It will maintain its independent listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and will be run by the current Management Board of Dr. Piëch and Bernd Wendeln. Piëch will also join Genius Brands’ Board of Directors in the U.S.

Genius Brands has agreed to acquire 3,000,000 shares of YFE for EUR 6 million to be followed by a mandatory tender offer to acquire additional outstanding shares of YFE at EUR 2.00 per share. Additionally, it plans to invest up to EUR 7 million to further capitalize YFE and invest in growing the global digital and linear channel footprint, as well as launch key intellectual property.

The companies share the goal of bringing “Content with a Purpose” to children worldwide. Piëch is leader in developing and promoting non-violent children’s content that supports environmental causes and sustainability. 

It was also announced that former Managing Director of Disney Television International and Senior Vice President Disney Channel Worldwide, Paul Robinson, will become Managing Director of Kartoon Channel! Worldwide and oversee the international buildout and growth of Kartoon Channel!  In his previous role, Robinson was responsible for global programming and production strategy for Disney Channels Worldwide, and founder of Toon Disney and Playhouse Disney Channels internationally. He was also Managing Director of Disney Television UK, including four television channels. He will be based in London.

Touting the growth opportunities presented by the agreement and by the merging of IP assets and earnings, Heyward commented, “The strategic transaction with Germany’s YFE…will present us with additional growth opportunities in furtherance of our goal of becoming the leading provider of quality and responsible children’s entertainment in the world today, and for years to come.”

He further expressed the common goals of the organizations and its leaders, adding, “With Stefan´s award-winning commitment to family friendly content and Bernd’s experience and network in the European market (e.g., ProSiebenSat.1 Group, Tele München Group), we look forward to jointly delivering content with a purpose to children worldwide.”

With YFE’s classic European titles like Fix & Foxi and Albert, and U.S. produced titles including Fairly Odd Parents, Piëch sees a path to deliver quality content while being becoming part of the greater overall Genius Brands and Kartoon Channel! banner, utilizing existing and new IP to create and produce new quality programming.

“We are excited to participate in this transaction with Genius Brands,” he shared, “…and look forward to creating value for both our shareholders worldwide and for families who watch our award-winning shows.”  

Lou Fazio, former Director of Walt Disney Television Acquisitions and Programming, will oversee the programming of the international channels, supporting Robinson on the development and rollout of the Kartoon Channel! content. The global rollout of consumer products based on the channel content, will be supervised by Kerry Phelan, Genius Brands’ GM & EVP, Global Franchise Management, who previously ran consumer products licensing worldwide for Lucasfilm, Pixar, and DreamWorks.

Source: Genius Brands International, Inc.