Lionsgate swoops in for TV Guide units

Company to buy network, Web site for $255 mil

Lionsgate has intercepted TV Guide Network and TVGuide.com from an investor group that had agreed to buy the assets.

Macrovision said Monday that it has bowed out of an agreement to sell the network and Web site to Allen Shapiro and One Equity Partners for $255 million and instead will sell them to Lionsgate for the same price.

Macrovision, a technology firm known for its digital rights management solutions, said it preferred a sale to Lionsgate because of that company's existing cash and available funds and because the new deal is void of financial performance requirements.

The previous deal, for example, contained a $45 million earn-out provision through 2012 that might have driven the purchase price below $255 million.

Macrovision also said Monday that the deal with Lionsgate has a better chance of closing than did the deal with Shapiro and One Equity Partners.

Shapiro, a former CEO of Dick Clark Prods., and One Equity Partners had announced their intention to buy TV Guide Network and the Web site just last month, with the deal expected to close by April 1. Lionsgate, though, said its transaction to acquire those assets from Macrovision could close a bit sooner than that.

Lionsgate, known more for its film business, has been beefing up its television presence. It not only produces "Mad Men," "Weeds" and "Crash" but also distributes "South Park," "Family Feud" and several more TV shows. It also partnered with Sony and Comcast two years ago to launch FearNet, a popular on-demand channel, and will launch entertainment channel Epix with partners Viacom and MGM by year's end.

"This is tremendous real estate, rarely available," Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said of TV Guide Network and TVGuide.com. The assets, he said, fit well "with our strategy of combining content creation, distribution and direct access to the consumer."
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