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July 6, 2018

Splash News picture agency saved in management buyout as owner Silverhub goes into administration

By Charlotte Tobitt

Showbiz news and pictures agency Splash News is under new ownership after former owner Silverhub Media went into administration.

Splash is now owned by the team that founded celebrity photo agency Flynet Pictures in 2011, which was also a subsidiary of Silverhub, after a management buyout.

John Churchill is the agency’s new chief executive, Danny Hayward is global content director, and Simon Bridger is global digital solutions director.

Silverhub agency bought international entertainment news and picture agency Splash in December 2016. It took over Flynet six months later.

Churchill said last week that the buyout, which is backed by investment firm Rcapital, signalled an “exciting new era” for Splash News.

“Rcapital’s support brings with it financial stability and a wealth of expertise when it comes to growing businesses,” he added.

Chris Campbell, investment director at Rcapital, said: “Splash News has a great track record and reputation. The management team has a clear vision for the future and our support to help them deliver sustainable growth.”

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A growth strategy for Splash will focus on the UK, US, Australia and Germany where it already has an established footprint, a statement said.

The UK editorial team is led by John Edwards, former picture editor of the Sun, and Ian Down, former picture editor of the Daily Mirror. Down joined Silverhub as managing editor soon after its launch in April 2016.

Splash claims to work with 2,000 photographers and videographers around the world and sells more than 500 exclusive images each month for use in print, web and TV.

The agency, which was established in 1990, made its name with showbiz exclusives such as its reports on model Anna Nicole Smith’s death in 2007 and revelations about golfer Tiger Woods’s love life in 2009.

Administrators FRP Advisory were appointed to Silverhub on 12 June, just over two years after the company was launched with the purchase of The Picture Library in London and Action Press in Hamburg, Germany.

The administrators said other subsidiary companies of Silverhub Media, including celebrity photo agency Flynet Pictures, were included in the management buyout of Splash News and will continue to trade.

Silverhub was founded by former Getty Images chief operating officer Nick Evans-Lombe and the head of Getty Images editorial division Adrian Murell.

Silverhub said last year that its buyout of Flynet made it “one of the world’s biggest entertainment agencies and cements Silverhub’s position as the industry’s leading supplier of breaking news entertainment and celebrity photography”.

Despite going into administration, Silverhub has been taken over by photo agency Wonderhatch, a move first announced in April.

The combined agency initially continued trading under separate names but Silverhub confirmed on Twitter last week that it has now joined with Wonderhatch UK.

Marc Webbon, who co-founded Silverhub and is now on the management team at Wonderhatch with Simon Owen and Patrick Gather, said in April: “Right from our very first meetings with Simon, Patrick and the team at Wonderhatch, it has been clear that we share the same values and the same goals – we are all driven to deliver exceptional work and to help our customers have a much more engaging relationship with content.”

Gather, director of film at Wonderhatch, added: “The digital content industry is evolving rapidly and we believe that this strategic joining of forces will strengthen our ability to adapt to that change and continue to provide our clients with the specialist service they now expect.

“In particular, bringing film to Silverhub’s clients will be extremely exciting and we can’t wait to get started.”

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