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Carsey-Werner-Mandabach unit eyes opportunities

Hoping to expand beyond its investment in Oxygen Media, Carsey-Werner-Mandabach has launched a division devoted to finding new business opportunities.

New-media vet Michele DiLorenzo has been tapped to lead the unit, dubbed CWM Ventures.

DiLorenzo has been charged with finding partners to create other businesses in the vein of Oxygen, which C-W-M operates along with co-founders Geraldine Laybourne and Oprah Winfrey. According to Carsey-Werner-Mandabach execs, that may include talking to advertisers about getting more involved in the business or collaborating on a distribution pipeline internationally.

Carsey-Werner-Mandabach principal Tom Werner said the company has started examining programming libraries and is open to “investing or purchasing other companies.”

“This is an example of our interest in broadening our scope beyond just producing programming for TV,” Werner said. “We do have capital, and we’re hoping to not just sit on it but invest in other entertainment.”

Werner said CWM Ventures doesn’t have a particular acquisition plan in mind, but that the company has discussed forming joint ventures with other independent production companies. CWM also is negotiating a potential international distribution pact.

“We once thought being an indie was a liability, but our feeling now is it gives us enormous freedom to make interesting choices,” Werner said.

DiLorenzo joins CWM from Paul Allen’s Vulcan Ventures, where she developed cable and Internet strategies. Allen is an Oxygen investor, which is how DiLorenzo first collaborated with the C-W-M crew.

“Michele has built her career on seeing industry trends early and then developing and executing original approaches to capitalize on them,” said Carsey-Werner-Mandabach partner Marcy Carsey. “We’re energized knowing Michele is on our team and thrilled to be in this together.”

DiLorenzo has also served as president of Viacom New Media and as chief operating officer at Virgin Interactive.

“CWM recognizes that this is a unique moment in television,” DiLorenzo said. “We saw the opportunity for CWM Ventures to take a leadership position in pioneering new models for the evolving TV business.”

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