IMG in talks to buy Mark Burnett productions for $250 to $500 million

Mark Burnett Productions–the company responsible for Survivor, The Apprentice, The Contender, and My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad, among other shows–may soon be sold to talent agency IMG for $250-$500 million.

Nikki Finke first reported that “Burnett is ‘in very serious conversation’ with IMG chairman Teddy Forstmann,” and that the “deal may be as rich as $500 million — $250M upfront, the rest earned out.”

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed the story, noting that Burnett “has been looking to sell his company for some time and last year retained Bear Stearns to shepherd the process,” and that “at least half the company is up for sale.” He “has met with a range of potential buyers, including top reality players FremantleMedia, Endemol and CKX, the parent company of 19 Entertainment.” The paper also reports that “Burnett’s super-rich deal with CBS for [Survivor] is said to be crucial to the high price tag for his company, along with the fact that MBP is one of the last marquee indie-producing companies available.”

Recently, 51 Minds was sold to Endemol, and THR notes that “nearly every independent reality production company has recently explored partnerships or purchases with cash-rich foreign distributors looking to get a foothold via a successful reality production company,” and “many of the reality production company sales are essentially 50-50 splits, so by and large, the trend isn’t consolidation in the usual terms.”

UPDATE: Reality TV Sale Price $500 Mil? Mark Burnett “Seriously” Talking To IMG; Already IMG Execs Fawning All Over Him [Deadline Hollywood Daily]
Mark Burnett, IMG talks get real [Hollywood Reporter]