Robertson seals IFE buyout of TVS

Televangelist Pat Robertson’s International Family Entertainment conglomerate announced yesterday that it has completed its acquisition of Britain’s TVS Entertainment PLC after a lengthy takeover battle.

TVS is the U.K.-based parent of MTM Entertainment, whose library includes such series as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,””The Bob Newhart Show,””Hill Street Blues” and “Remington Steele,” as well as the current “Evening Shade” on CBS and syndicated “The New WKRP in Cincinnati.”

Takeover bid increased

IFE was forced to increase its takeover bid from $ 66 million to the final $ 90 million in cash and stock after rumors that Lorne Michaels was also a suitor.

TVS preference shareholders, representing about 25% of the company’s equity base, objected to the original offer terms.

A spokesman for the company said most TVS shareholders opted for IFE shares — which have risen 50% in price since the first takeover bid last fall — over cash. He said the IFE stock portion was worth about $ 77 million, compared to cash buyouts worth $ 12 million.

Natural ‘synergies’

He said there was no immediate changes planned for MTM, but said there are natural “synergies” between the two companies, particularly as IFE expands internationally.

The spokesman said IFE plans to broadcast shows from the MTM library on the new cable system it will launch soon in the U.K.

“We have plans for cable in Europe, Hong Kong and China,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a press conference yesterday afternoon in San Francisco, IFE chief exec Tim Robertson said he wanted IFE to become a “global boutique” that would carve out niche markets around the world for quality family programming.

Biggies left alone

The CEO told those assembled in the Moscone Center that he had no intention of taking on international players like Warner Bros. and Viacom.

Independent subsids

Robertson also fielded questions as to the future of what appeared to many in Hollywood as overlapping sales staffs at MTM and Family Channel. The CEO pledged that MTM and the Family Channel would operate as independent subsidiaries and retain separate sales staffs.

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