Helion Partners advises True to Nature on the sale of a minority stake to Sky

Helion is pleased to announce the sale of a minority stake in True To Nature to Sky Studios.

True To Nature is one of the UK’s leading premium natural history and adventure travel producers and is responsible for shows including Undiscovered Worlds/Expedition with Steve Backshall for BBC2 and UKTV, Gangs of Lemur Island for Love Nature and Living Volcanoes for ZDF/PBS.

True To Nature was founded in 2016 by Wendy Darke, who is the former head of the BBC’s Natural History Unit, a role she held from 2012 to 2016. At the NHU she was responsible for shows including: Life Story, Big Blue Live, Attenborough and the Giant Dinosaur and the double BAFTA winning Deadly 60 with Steve Backshall. She also secured a number of iconic landmark series including Planet Earth II, Blue Planet II and Dynasties.

Sky is taking a 24.9% stake (alongside existing shareholders) which allows True To Nature to retain is Indie qualifying status – True To Nature is also regionally qualifying, being based in Bristol at the heart of the UK’s natural history production expertise.

There is increasing demand from a range of new commissioners for premium specialist factual content that appeals to a wide range of international family audiences including Netflix, Discovery, Apple, NatGeo and Sky, which makes the growth opportunities in the sector compelling. Sky has long campaigned to raise awareness and taken action that helps preserve the natural world including through its Sky Rainforest Rescue campaign and most recently Sky Ocean Rescue, eradicating single-use plastic from its products, operations and supply chain.

Sky Studios will provide True to Nature with the support needed to accelerate its growth and become a leading international developer of wildlife shows. Whilst retaining full creative independence, True to Nature will also work closely with Sky Studios to develop content for distribution on the Sky platforms.

The investment is the first to be made by Sky Studios, Sky’s new Europe-wide development and production capability. With the backing of new owners Comcast, Sky’s investment in original content will more than double over the next five years across a range of genres.

“We are delighted to have advised Wendy and True To Nature on this transaction. Wendy’s pedigree in the premium natural history and adventure travel world is outstanding and the business has some very exciting opportunities. Partnering with Sky is a compelling fit for True To Nature, as Sky seeks to ramp up its investment in content and has long been focused on the natural world. We wish Wendy and her the team all the very best with the new venture. She has a very exciting development slate and I look forward to seeing some stand out shows on our screens in the forthcoming years.”

Tom Manwaring, Partner, Helion

“We are delighted to be building a closer relationship with one of the most exciting names in the broadcast sector. Like True To Nature, Sky has long been a supporter of the preservation of the natural world and I look forward to developing projects with them, alongside our strong existing broadcast and distribution partners. As a company, we benefitted greatly from the experience of Tom at Helion Partners on guiding us through the complex process of seeking a partner – he completely understood the business and enabled us to achieve an outstanding outcome during this key time in our growth. Tom and his team worked tirelessly to ensure that the process was seamless, expedient and professional, and it’s difficult to see how we would have done the deal without him. This is a very exciting time for True To Nature and I look forward to working with Sky to help realise our ambitions.”
Wendy Darke, Founder and CEO, True To Nature