Polygram Buys ITC

A long-in-the-making deal for Dutch media conglom Polygram to acquire the venerable Anglo-American producer/distributor ITC Entertainment has finally gone through – at a price hovering around $150 million.

ITC, which was set up 35 years ago by the British movie/TV mogul Sir Lew Grade, boasts an extensive programming library and is well entrenched in international TV distribution. The catalog includes some dusty old British gems like “The Prisoner” and “Thunderbirds” as well as U.S. pix such as “On Golden Pond” and “Sophie’s Choice.” As a producer, ITC in recent years has concentrated on low-budget theatricals and telemovies as well as the occasional firstrun syndicated show. The deal will be officially unveiled Jan. 11 during the gala lunch that Grade hosts annually in London. Polygram Filmed Entertainment prexy Michael Kuhn will announce that Grade will be graced with a title – reportedly honorary president for life – of the company he founded.

Sources suggest that the international TV distribbery will fit nicely with the Dutch music and entertainment giant’s feature film business. Polygram has been actively setting up relationships with a number of indie film producers in Hollywood, including Jodie Foster’s Egg Pictures. ITC could provide a ready-made TV and video distribution pipeline for Polygram’s product.

However, the fate of ITC’s approximately 120 staffers – most of whom are based in its Studio City headquarters – is anyone’s guess. Sources say ITC president/CEO Jules Haimovitz, who joined the company in April 1993 from Spelling Entertainment with the mandate to find a financial partner, would remain with the company, as well as at least some senior ITC management. Haimovitz reportedly stands to make 8%-10% of the sale price through his stock options in ITC.

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