Indie film company True North acquired by Sky

Deal comes in same week as Veracity’s acquisition of security software start-up icomply and Versarien’s acquisition of Cambridge Graphene

True North, an independent film company that was first invested in by Channel 4, has been acquired by Sky, which takes a majority stake in the company.

Founded in 2002, Leeds and Manchester-based True North produces factual, factual-entertainment, features, children’s and reality content for BBC One, Channel 4, Channel 5, and other major channels.

The company hit growth stage in 2014 and has since secured £1.56m over three funding rounds, including an initial investment from the Channel 4’s £20m Indie Growth Fund in 2014. This deal represents the channel’s first full exit from the fund.

Founders Andrew Sheldon and Jess Fowle will retain control as creative directors to oversee the growth of True North’s bases in Leeds and Manchester. Sky Vision, Sky’s international production and distribution arm, will represent the production firm’s new programmes and formats.

Sky has also invested in Chrysalis Vision – a small TV production and screenwriting company – possibly in a bid to produce original content that will rival Netflix and Amazon.

The news comes in the same week as two other significant acquisitions. Yorkshire-based security software developer icomply has been bought by Scottish surveillance business Veracity and Cambridge Graphene – a spinout from the University of Cambridge – has been acquired by Versarien.

Sheldon commented: “Being aligned to Channel 4 has been a terrific experience. Although they won’t be investors anymore we’re really looking forward to continuing our creative partnership with the channel.

“We’re now well placed to deliver on a new set of ambitions in the global market, and we think Sky are the perfect partners to help achieve that.”

Jane Millichip, managing director at Sky Vision, said: “True North has an incredible track record, and we’re really excited to have the opportunity to work with two renowned industry figures in Fowle and Sheldon to develop more top quality programming.”

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