MDIF posts Q3 profit on library sales

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TORONTO -- Having recently placed itself on the auction block, Canadian indie distributor Movie Distribution Income Fund on Wednesday  posted a higher third quarter profit on larger library sales.

Lloyd Wiggins, executive vp and CFO at Toronto-based Movie Distribution, told analysts during a conference call that the indie distributor was working with controlling shareholder Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. to sell all or parts of the business, and that the sales process would begin soon.

Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis on October 20 said it was putting its controlling 51% stake in its movie distribution business, Motion Picture Distribution LP, onto the market.

Movie Distribution Income Fund, which is advised in the possible sale by investment house CIBC World Markets and legal firm Stikeman Elliott LLP, owns the remaining 49% stake in Motion Picture Distribution LP.

Alliance Atlantis is being advised by RBC Capital Markets and Bennett Jones LLP.

During recent corporate turmoil at Motion Picture Distribution LP in which former chairman Victor Loewy left the company and then had to be brought back to appease output supplier New Line Cinema, British-based hedge fund Marwyn Investment Management LLP said it was considering a CAN$414 million ($370 million) bid to buy Motion Picture Distribution.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was also reportedly kicking the tires at Motion Picture Distribution.

Wiggins gave few details on his company's sales plans, but the consensus is Alliance Atlantis is looking either to sell the entire business at the right price, or its UK and Spanish distribution arms, while retaining the Canadian operation.

Releasing its third quarter results, Movie Distribution said it earned CAN$6.4 million ($5.6 million) during the three months to September 30, compared to a profit of CAN$5.9 million in 2005.

The raised profit came on static revenues -- CAN$123 million ($109 million), against a year-earlier CAN$122.4 million -- and the distributor releasing "Bon Cop, Bad Cop," the highest grossing Canadian movie ever with CAN$12.4 million ($11 million) in domestic receipts to date.

Canadian distribution revenues rose 7% to CAN$95.7 million ($85.7 million, against CAN$89 million in 2005, while UK revenues at Momentum Pictures increased to CAN$19.9 million ($17.7 million), against a year-earlier CAN$16.6 million.

Spanish revenues from Aurum Producciones proved a drag on the distributor's performance -- CAN$7.4 million ($6.5 million) during the latest quarter, compared to CAN$16.7 million in 2005.
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