AMC Networks to Acquire Robert Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment

Josh Sapan - H 2015
Noam Galai/WireImage

It said it will exercise an option to buy the stake in the company behind Acorn TV and the Urban Movie Channel that it does not already own.

AMC Networks on Monday said it has proposed acquiring 100 percent of Robert Johnson's RLJ Entertainment, with an eye to taking the company private.

AMC is exercising an option to purchase the outstanding shares of RLJ Entertainment that it does not already own after, in November 2016, making a $65 million investment in the firm in the form of loans via its unit Digital Entertainment Holdings for a 26 percent minority stake, with an option to purchase outright control.

AMC, led by CEO Josh Sapan, proposed paying $4.25 per share in cash for the premium digital channel company that will become a subsidiary of the TV company, if the deal is completed. With Bloomberg showing that RLJ has about 14.07 million shares outstanding, the deal would be worth around $60 million.

AMC said it expects RLJ Entertainment to weigh its offer, which it considers a long-term investment. "AMC Networks has advised RLJ Entertainment that it is only interested in acquiring the shares of RLJ Entertainment not owned by AMC Networks or entities affiliated with Mr. Johnson, and has no interest in disposing of its stake in RLJ Entertainment or participating in any other strategic process," the company said. 

RLJ’s businesses include branded OTT channels Acorn TV, focused on British TV, and UMC, the Urban Movie Channel. RLJ also owns a 64 percent stake in Agatha Christie Ltd., which manages the intellectual property and publishing rights to the creations of the writer behind such characters as Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

RLJ also has the North American rights for such movies as Pierce Brosnan’s I.T., Ethan Hawke’s baseball movie The Phenom, Western Bone Tomahawk starring Kurt Russell and horror movie The Mind’s Eye. Johnson created RLJ Entertainment in 2012 when one of his companies agreed to acquire Image Entertainment and Acorn Media Group. 

AMC made earlier investments in the digital space, including in dance entertainment-focused YouTube network DanceOn and Latino-focused digital media firm MiTu.

AMC is being advised by Citigroup Global Markets on the proposed deal to acquire RLJ Entertainment.