Alliance Communications Corp., Canada’s largest independent film and TV producer, went public Thursday.

The Toronto-based company raised around $ C23.5 million ($ 18.2 million), which will be used to pay down debt and boost TV production.

The stock was priced at $ 13 a share.

The move “enables us to take a qualitative leap in the international market,” said chairman and CEO Robert Lantos. The funds “will help step up our deficit financing for our own productions and acquisitions.”

Some $ C6 million ($ 4.65 million) has been earmarked to repay a loan, leaving the company’s balance sheet practically free of debt. The remainder of the offering, around $ C17 million ($ 13.2 million), will go to TV, which constitutes 80% of Alliance’s production. Last year, it produced four miniseries and movies, including “Family of Strangers” for CBS.

According to Lantos, Alliance will also modestly increase its annual film production from two or three films to four or five. It produced or co-financed “Black Robe” and “Leolo,” and has “I Love a Man in Uniform” ready for release.

The biggest beneficiaries are Lantos, who will still own 27.5% of Alliance, worth an estimated $ 20.5 million, and Cineplex Odeon Corp., the exhibition chain.

Cineplex, which is partly owned by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., will hold 13%, worth around $ 13 million. Cineplex bought a 20% stake in Alliance in 1988 for an undisclosed amount. “It was one of the best investments they ever made,” Lantos said.

Alliance presents a healthy balance sheet, closing out fiscal 1993, ended March 31, with $ C5 million ($ 3.9 million) in net profits on sales of $ C132.2 million ($ 102.5 million).

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