Alliance has its eye on TF1 International

Victor Loewy says move is part of an 'open process'

TORONTO -- Canadian distributor Alliance Films is in talks to buy out TF1 International, the film sales unit of the Gallic TV network.

Victor Loewy, CEO of Montreal-based Alliance Films, which was acquired last year by Goldman Sachs, confirmed Tuesday that he has kicked the tires but has yet to make a formal offer.

"This is part of an open process with more than one suitor, so we're not in a position to make a bid," Loewy said.

A possible Canadian play for TF1 International comes as Alliance Films and domestic rival Entertainment One increasingly eye Europe as they build out multiterritory distribution networks.

In addition to Canada, Alliance has existing distribution arms in the U.K. and Spain. A possible foray into France would follow January's acquisition by the Quebec provincial government of a $100 million stake in Alliance, a deal that included shifting its head office from Toronto to French-speaking Montreal.

Entertainment One, which is backed by London-based equity player Marwyn Investment Management and trades on Britain's AIM market, last year acquired Britain's Contender Entertainment and Benelux distributor RCV as part of its European expansion.

A deal for TF1 International would cap a busy summer for Alliance.

Canada's largest indie distributor is set to go public with an output deal with Relativity Media that was initially inked in Cannes. And a long-running Canadian output deal for New Line product that was earlier pulled from Alliance when Warner Bros. took the ministudio in-house is back on.

Warner Bros. has agreed to keep open until the end of 2009 the pipeline to Alliance of New Line product for release in Canada.