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RTL picks up majority stake in YouTube network StyleHaul

MUMBAI: European broadcasting group RTL has agreed to pay $107 million to buy a controlling stake in StyleHaul, a multi-channel YouTube network dedicated to fashion, beauty and lifestyle.

The deal increases RTL Group’s shareholding in StyleHaul from 22.3 per cent to 93.6 per cent and values the US-based business at $151.4 million. RTL will also invest an additional $20 million to expand StyleHaul’s business. The deal is expected to close by the end of November.

RTL co-CEO Guillaume de Posch said in a statement that acquiring StyleHaul aligns with the company’s plans to expand its online video business.

He said, “The acquisition of StyleHaul is another major strategic step in developing RTL Group into a global powerhouse in the rapidly growing market for online video. It is an excellent fit with our digital portfolio, complementing our recent, technology-focused acquisitions BroadbandTV and SpotXchange. With its strong advertising sales team, impressive track record in producing web content and the synergy potential with RTL Group’s broadcasters and producers, StyleHaul has the ideal foundations for continued strong growth.”

RTL, which owns a number of international TV and radio stations, led StyleHaul’s $6 million funding round in May 2013. Parent company Bertelsmann is also a StyleHaul investor and led the company’s $6.5 million round in February 2013 through its digital media investment arm. In total, the company has raised nearly $17 million since 2011.

StyleHaul founder and CEO Stephanie Horbaczewski added, “For the past two years the partnership between StyleHaul and RTL Group has played an integral role in our success and growth. We are thrilled to be deepening that relationship and play a significant role in their emergence as a leader in the digital landscape.”

StyleHaul, which will continue to operate independently out of its Hollywood headquarters, has around 60 employees, with offices in New York, Chicago and London.

Reports state that the company has been aggressive about growing internationally, launching Latin American site StyleHaul Mundo, and recently expanding into Singapore to work with brands and talent in the region.

StyleHaul’s videos are aimed at girls and young women, showcasing the things they want to wear and buy. ‘Haul’ videos are a YouTube phenomenon where video-makers sit in front of a camera and show off the stuff they just purchased.