Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Sells Germany’s Telepool to Vuelta Group

Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Sells Germany’s Telepool to Vuelta Group

Jerome Levy’s Vuelta Group, a private-equity-backed European studio, has acquired German production and licensing giant Telepool from Westbrook, the U.S. outfit controlled Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith.

Vuelta will merge Telepool with Munich-based SquareOne, the German producer/distributor it acquired last year. SquareOne CEO Al Munteanu, head of Vuelta Group Germany, will take over the running of the merged company, with Michael Heyd serving as CFO/COO.

Telepool has one of the largest rights libraries in Europe, with German-language rights to more than 1,200 titles, including such features as The Imitation Game, Drive, Olympus Has Fallen, Lone Survivor and French hit Intouchables, as well as Westbrook-produced features like Oscar-winner King Richard. Upcoming features include the Hellboy reboot The Crooked Man and Andrew Niccol’s Lord of War sequel, Lords of War, starring Nicolas Cage and Bill Skarsgård.

Yoko Higuchi-Zitzmann, who took over as CEO at Telepool two years ago, will leave the company. Vuelta Group will continue to work with Telepool’s international sales arm Global Screen.

In a joint statement with Levy, Munteanu said the addition of Telepool’s library would enable SquareOne “to offer German-speaking audiences a strong and varied slate of theatrical releases going forward, across multiple genres – from ‘smarthouse’ features, comedies, and actioners to high-end family entertainment.”

Vuelta went big quick on the European market, launching last year with the acquisition of three independent European producer/distributors: Germany’s SquareOne, France’s Playtime, and Nordic group Scanbox. In Italy the group controls producer Indiana Productions (Confidenza). The company’s goal is to create a pan-European television and film studio that can produce and distribute big and small screen European content across the continent.

“This latest Vuelta Group acquisition is in line with our vision and strategy to create an integrated European studio, with the capacity to produce and distribute across multiple territories,” said Levy.

“We are happy to have found the right partner for Telepool with the Vuelta Group and wish them all the best as they continue their vision to expand their new and vibrant media powerhouse,” said Westbrook’s executive vp of corporate development Ryan Ascencio. “We are eager to continue our collaboration on our projects going forward.”

“I am proud of everything we achieved at Telepool,” Higuchi-Zitzmann said in a statement. “My sincere thanks go to my fantastic colleagues, our outstanding content partners and to Westbrook, with whom I have worked so productively. I wish the wonderful team of professionals and the new owners of the Vuelta Group Germany only the very best. I am convinced that Telepool will continue to be in the best hands.”

The Telepool acquisition was facilitated by Lazard, which acted as the exclusive financial advisor to Westbrook and Telepool.

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