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France’s CDR set to sell Epic library

The French government agency CDR has hired investment bank Furman Selz to advise on ways to sell its 1,100-title Epic collection of film libraries, sources said Monday.

Investment bankers estimate CDR is likely to raise about $75 million on the sale of the collection, which includes libraries of companies such as Epic, De Laurentiis and Hemdale that defaulted on their debts to French bank Credit Lyonnais.

The likely buyers, investment bankers say, are major studios with foreign distribution arms like Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox as well as Polygram Filmed Entertainment, which has been keen to build up its film library.

Preparatory work on sale of the library comes six months after CDR completed the $1.3 billion sale of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to Kirk Kerkorian and Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network. Like the library, Credit Lyonnais inherited MGM when a borrower — in MGM’s case, Giancarlo Parretti — defaulted on his debts. Both the studio and the Epic collection of libraries were transferred into the CDR holding agency pending a sale.

But the library is unlikely to attract anywhere near as much interest as MGM, which was sold after a heated auc-tion. A team of Loeb & Loeb attorneys has spent the better part of four years sorting out the paperwork on the films and identifying their licensees. One banker said that part of Furman Selz’s job would be to advise CDR how much of that job is left to be done, as well as advising the French how the library should be sold — whether by open auc-tion or through a more selective method.

Few of the titles in the library are A-list, and most are encumbered with long-term licensing deals. What is avail-able on the titles varies widely and tends to be a multitude of TV windows in a patchwork of territories. “It’s a real hodgepodge,” said one investment banker.

Among the titles in the collection are Richard Burton’s last movie, “Absolution,” “Bad Influence” starring Rob Lowe and James Spader, “Waiting for the Light” with Shirley MacLaine and Teri Garr, as well as “Robot Holo-caust” and “Valet Girls.”

The lack of any licensing pattern restricts the ability of a buyer to package the films for broadcasters, although a major like Fox might be happy to add the library to its existing catalog just to add some cash flow to its distribution division.

People close to CDR said Furman had not been formally retained to handle the sale, but bankers say that is little more than a formality that will occur once Furman makes its final recommendation. CDR execs could not be reached for comment and Furman Selz did not return calls.

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