Bergstein has eye on Image, Tartan Films

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Financier David Bergstein, who during the past year has acquired Capitol Films and ThinkFilm, has set his sights on British-based distributor Tartan Films as well as home video company Image Entertainment, headquartered in Chatsworth, Calif.

According to several sources, Bergstein is in the final stages of closing separate deals for the companies, which would expand his growing entertainment portfolio. The Tartan deal is said to be in the $20 million-$25 million range, while the Image deal is valued at about $125 million, according to a source close to Bergstein.

Hamish McAlpine, who in 1982 founded the U.K.-based Tartan, which is involved in both theatrical and video distribution, said it is "completely untrue" that he is close to sealing a deal with anyone. He said that he has been approached by numerous investors but is not about to conclude any agreement.

Another source aware of the Tartan situation cautioned that the parties might still be far apart on the question of price.

McAlpine added that he has been talking to various parties and that any deal might take the form of a refinancing, which would allow him to expand the operations of Tartan's U.S. offshoot, Tartan U.S.A., which he launched in 2004.

Citing the fact that Image is a publicly traded company, Image COO David Borshell said he could not comment and that no announcement was imminent. Borshell has previously said to investors that Image is looking to explore opportunities with other companies, and he added Wednesday, "We're working down to a couple of parties."

Bergstein could not be reach for comment.

Tartan has released more than 300 films in the U.K., including "The Cooler," "Super Size Me," "Capturing the Friedmans" and "The Triplets of Belleville." Tartan U.S.A. is set to release Denis Dercourt's "The Page Turner" on Friday and also has been releasing titles including Park Chan-wook's "Mr. Vengeance" theatrically and on DVD under its "Asia Extreme" banner.

Image Entertainment, founded in 1981, controls more than 2,500 DVD titles and about 200 audio titles, which it distributes worldwide. In the U.S., it releases about 30 new DVD titles monthly.

In early 2006, Los Angeles-based entrepreneurs Bergstein and Ron Tutor's Capco Group acquired Capitol, whose operations include production, postproduction and foreign sales. It has handled the worldwide sales and distribution of more than 100 films, the majority of which it financed or co-financed.

In October, Capco Group purchased North American distributor ThinkFilm for about $25 million. That purchase opened access to the U.S. market for Capco.

The moves to acquire Tartan and Image, if successful, would increase Capco's position in the home entertainment market on both sides of the Atlantic while also strengthening its theatrical distribution outlets.

Gregg Goldstein reported from New York; Stuart Kemp reported from London. Nicole Sperling in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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