Blue Ant International Buys Distributor Drive Media Rights in Major U.K. Acquisition (EXCLUSIVE)

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Canada’s Blue Ant International has made one of its most ambitious acquisitions to date, taking 100% ownership of U.K.-based distributor Drive Media Rights, Variety can reveal.

The deal comes as the distribution arm of Toronto-headquartered Blue Ant Media continues to grow in the U.K. and form new creative relationships, while expanding its pre-sales capacity — a crucial engine for growth among TV distributors looking to get in earlier on projects.

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Drive Media Rights is a well-respected financing, co-production and sales business set up in 2013 by Ben Barrett and Lilla Hurst. Based in London, the company has helped to structure innovative deals for factual and documentary content over the years.

As part of the acquisition, Drive’s managing directors Barrett and Hurst will join Blue Ant International as global head of content financing and partnerships and global head of acquisitions and partnerships, respectively. The duo will continue to operate from London, reporting into Solange Attwood, executive VP of Blue Ant International.

In joining forces with Blue Ant International, Drive will continue to offer a full range of commercial services, working with producers around the world to get their projects funded, produced and distributed.

Blue Ant International’s Attwood said: “As the media ecosystem evolves, a distribution partner that can bring meaningful financing, allowing our partners to realize their creative ambitions, is paramount. Our combined expertise and relationships with Ben and Lilla should help our partners to do more of just that.”

Added Barrett and Hurst: “We’re incredibly proud of what we and our team have achieved with Drive over the last nine years and we’re excited to become part of a larger organization. Blue Ant Media consists of top-quality content producers, established channels and a thriving distribution business, all of which will provide new levels of opportunity and relationships, allowing us to seamlessly grow the combined business.”

As part of the deal, Blue Ant International has bought Drive Media Rights’ library of more than 900 hours — an offering that consists mainly of unscripted programming, with genres spanning documentary, history, science, crime, lifestyle and paranormal. Drive’s roster of production clients include October Films, Oxford Films, Blink Films, Air TV and Future Studios.

The deal brings Blue Ant International’s catalogue to almost 5,000 hours of programming.

The company has come to specialize in factual series, kids programming, documentaries and one of the world’s largest offerings of 4K natural history content, which is housed under the LoveNature banner.

(Pictured, L-R: Lilla Hurst, Solange Attwood, Ben Barrett)

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