Metrodome-Target merger talks on hold

Trading halted for distributor/finance banner

LONDON -- U.K. film distribution and finance banner Metrodome, listed here on the AIM stock exchange, suspended share dealing Monday as news of merger talks with television company Target Entertainment broke.

The movie company said talks to snap up the television producer of programming such as "Foyle's War" and a 6,000-hours-plus library are ongoing.

Metrodome's move comes weeks after it revamped its structure and strategy. After the departure in April of Metrodome CEO Peter Urie, who exited to pursue personal producer ambitions and the departure of theatrical distribution general manager Sara Frain, the company said it would be significantly reducing its theatrical movie distribution endeavors while at the same time reiterating a desire to keep its toe in the market.

Shortly after Cannes in May, Metrodome sealed U.K. all rights deals for the $25 million budgeted earthquake thriller "Aftershock," Dominik Moll's Vincent Cassell starrer "The Monk" and "My Best Enemy," starring Moritz Bleibtreu.

In a statement to the stock exchange, Metrodome said: "The board intends to continue its dialogue with the intention of negotiating a purchase of all or part of Target. As this transaction may be a reverse acquisition in terms of the AIM Rules, the trading in the ordinary shares of Metrodome have been suspended until such time as all talks are discontinued, a transaction which is not a reverse transaction is agreed or until an Admission Document is published."

Owned by founder and chief executive Alison Rayson, as well as private equity house Acuity Capital and entrepreneur Richard Thompson, Target is said to have been searching for new backers for nearly a year. But Metrodome may have to see off other interested parties in the race to hit the Target with other possible suitors including Big Brother producer Endemol circling, according to industry observers. Target is based here with offices on the East and West Coast of America.
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