Entertainment One buys U.K.'s Contender

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LONDON -- British DVD distributor Contender Entertainment has been snapped up by Entertainment One in a cash and stock deal worth £49.4 million ($97.3 million), marking the first European foothold for the Canadian home entertainment venture, it was announced here Thursday.

The companies told the London stock exchange that Entertainment One will fund the acquisition through the issue of 20.2 million new shares, raising £21.7 million ($42.7 million) cash and financing the balance through additional debt facilities.

Contender, which puts out such titles as "Life on Mars," "Will and Grace," "Spooks" and "Saturday Night Live," is part of Entertainment One's global expansion plans.

"The acquisition of Contender is our first major deal in Europe and is a significant step in delivering our strategy of building a leading independent international entertainment content owner and distributor," Entertainment One CEO Darren Throop said.

Contender's existing management lineup, including managing director Richard Bridgewood, are expected to remain as part of the deal.

"This deal enables Contender to continue its strong growth as part of a larger multiterritory group while retaining the highly successful management and staff in place," Bridgewood said.

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