Lionsgate Sale of Maple Pictures Stake in the Works

Sources tell the Hollywood Reporter that Alliance Films is in talks to acquire all or part of rival Canadian distributor Maple Films, including a minority stake held by Lionsgate.

TORONTO – Back in February, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told financial analysts the mini-studio was searching for non-core assets to monetize.

That hunt may soon bear fruit.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Lionsgate’s stake in Canadian indie distributor Maple Pictures, which releases the mini-studio’s titles north of the border, is up for grabs.

A likely buyer is Alliance Films, Canada’s largest indie distributor, which is understood to be in three-way negotiations that could potentially see Alliance acquire part or all of Maple Pictures, including the Lionsgate stake.

A Lionsgate spokesman offered no comment on a possible sale of the stake in Maple Pictures, which is headed up by co-presidents Laurie May and Brad Pelman and was launched in April 2005 when Lionsgate spun off its Canadian distribution arm.

At the time, Maple Pictures inked library and output agreements with Lionsgate to release its movies, TV shows and home entertainment product in Canada.

Maple Pictures’ Brad Pelman offered no comment Thursday on whether Lionsgate is looking to unload its minority stake in the Canadian distributor, or whether Alliance is in the mix as a buyer.

Alliance Films topper Victor Loewy also offered no comment on possible interest in Maple Pictures.

Should a deal for all or part of Maple Pictures be concluded, it is expected to be unveiled as early as Cannes.

A possible Maple Pictures sale follows Lionsgate waging a drag-out battle for control of the company with lead shareholder Carl Icahn, and now looking to shore up its balance sheet to satisfy investors.