Entertainment One acquires four companies

9:23 AM PST 07/07/2008 by Etan Vlessing, AP

Deals will likely shake up sector dominated by Alliance

TORONTO -- Canadian distribution powerhouse Entertainment One has struck agreements to acquire Canadian TV producers Blueprint Entertainment and Barna-Alper Prods. and domestic distributors Oasis International and Maximum Films.

Terms of the deals -- announced Monday -- were not disclosed, but the acquisitions are expected to shake up a Canadian distribution sector long dominated by Alliance Films, which last year was acquired by Goldman Sachs & Co.

On the movie side, distributor Maximum Films will merge with Montreal-based Seville Entertainment, which Entertainment One acquired in 2007.

Entertainment One will buy out shareholders in all four private Canadian companies with a mixture of cash and company stock.

The new quartet will in turn be combined with Britain's Contender Entertainment Group and Benelux distributor RCV Entertainment as part of Entertainment One's filmed entertainment division, which is led by president Patrice Theroux.

Entertainment One, which is expected to seek listing on the LSE and Toronto Stock Exchange, is backed by private equity funding from London-based Marwyn Investment Management LLP and trades on Britain's AIM market.

Until last year, it was a major North American distributor of DVDs, video games and music product, and has since branched out into filmed entertainment.

The company's strategy is to exploit film rights across a range of platforms, including theatrical, DVD, broadcast and online delivery.

The Canadian company earlier purchased Contender Entertainment Group for $97 million and RCV Entertainment for $62 million.

Entertainment One, which had revenue last year of $571 million, has already inked output deals with Summit Entertainment and Yari Film in a bid to outpace rival Alliance.

The latest deals also make Entertainment One investors of CBS president Jeff Sagansky, an investor in Blueprint Entertainment, and Robert Lantos, who launched Maximum Films last year and has stakes in Blueprint, Barna-Alper and Oasis.
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