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Imagine bid by Howard, Grazer OK’d

Imagine Films Entertainment Inc. is expected to announce today that its board of directors has accepted company founders Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s $ 9 -a-share bid to acquire the remaining stock they don’t already own.

The board met yesterday for final consideration of the $ 23.5 million offer, which has been extended twice in the past two months.

A formal announcement will be made once the paperwork is completed, said a source close to the transaction.

Imagine shares dropped 25 cents in trading yesterday to close at $ 8.50.

In 1992, the stock traded as high as $ 10.50.

Five shareholder lawsuits contend that Grazer and Howard, who own a 54% stake in the company, are trying to acquire the company on the cheap and that the buyout price should have been more in the $ 12 range.

Grazer and Howard, who announced their departure last April, have since formed a new company, HG Prods., which has a six-year production/distribution deal with Universal.

$ 14 mil loan

The studio also is loaning them $ 14 million to buy back the remaining Imagine public shares, according to documents filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission.

Universal also has agreed to loan Grazer and Howard $ 3.2 million that may be used for legal expenses involved in fighting shareholder lawsuits.

The company reported its fiscal 1992 earnings just two weeks ago, after filing for an extension, revealing a loss of $ 2.5 million for the year compared to net income of $ 1.6 million in 1991.

The release, however, did not reveal the company’s cash on hand, though it had $ 21 million in its coffers last June.

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