Quebec buys Alliance stake

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TORONTO -- The Quebec provincial government said Wednesday that it has paid CAN$100 million ($98.3 million) for a minority stake in Alliance Films, Canada's largest independent distributor.

The Societe generale de financement du Quebec (SGF), which invests in Quebec film on behalf of the provincial government, will move the head office of Alliance Films from Toronto to Montreal after its acquisition of 51% of the voting shares and a 38.5% stake in the film distributor.

Alliance Films, which is controlled by Goldman Sachs & Co., releases movies in Canada from New Line, Miramax, Focus Features and the Weinstein Co. as part of long-standing output deals.

SGF also will acquire Alliance Films' library of Canadian movies, including the French-language films from its Quebec distribution arm, Viva Films.

SGF bought the minority stake from Toronto-based equity player EdgeStone Capital Partners and will run Alliance Films on behalf of Goldman Sachs so the U.S. investment bank does not breach Canadian foreign ownership rules.

Goldman Sachs will retain a controlling equity stake in Alliance Films, which releases filmed entertainment product in Canada, Britain and Spain.

SGF has deep ties to the Quebec film industry and has moved to attract film and TV production to Montreal.

Last August, SGF struck a separate $400 million slate financing deal with Vancouver-based Lionsgate to cover up to 35% of its production costs on TV and projects shot in Quebec during a four-year period.

And in October 2006, SGF agreed to invest CAN$18 million over six years in a $221.5 million slate of Dark Castle Entertainment movies to be produced by Joel Silver and distributed by Warner Bros.
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