Fremantle Acquires Majority Stake in A Team, Belgian Producer of ‘Baghdad Messi’

Fremantle, the production unit of Bertelsmann-owned TV giant RTL Group, has acquired a majority stake in A Team Productions, the Belgium-based producer of upcoming feature film Baghdad Messi and upcoming drama series Alter Ego.

Financial details weren’t disclosed.

The deal for the company, founded in 2009 and led by Kobe van Steenberghe and Hendrik Verthé, is the latest in Fremantle’s ongoing shopping spree. Over the past 18 months, its acquisitions have included U.K. producer Dancing Ledge (The Responder), Italian scripted outfit Lux Vide (Devils, Leonardo), Fabel (Bosch), Australian-American TV firm Eureka Productions (Parental Guidance, Finding Magic Mike), 12 Scandinavian labels from Nordic Entertainment Group, Ireland’s Element Pictures (Normal People, The Favourite), 72 Films (All or Nothing: Arsenal, 9/11: One Day in America) and Silvio Productions (Shadow of Truth, The Baby Daddy, Buried).

A Team Productions (ATP) had a success with the short film Land of the Heroes, which won the international jury prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2011. Its short Baghdad Messi was shortlisted for an Academy Award in 2014. A feature version is scheduled to come out later this year. Set in Iraq 2009, the film is about a soccer-crazy boy who loses a leg because of his father’s questionable job. The father then “fights for his family, while his son fights to keep his own dream alive,” according to a plot description.

“I have long admired Kobe, Hendrik and the whole ATP team’s work,” said Dave Heuten, CEO of Fremantle Belgium. “I am excited to be going on this journey with them, finding synergies and developing new content together.”

Said Verthé and van Steenberghe: “We and our entire team are looking forward extremely hard to working with Fremantle to further grow our business in both the local and international markets.”

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