Intermedia ready to Initial takeover

CEO King expected to operate IEG as autonomous label

Intermedia Films is close to making a deal to acquire foreign sales and financing boutique Initial Entertainment Group.

Shingle is headed by CEO Graham King, who is expected to continue to operate IEG as an autonomous label within Intermedia.

King has been in talks with a number of would-be buyers in recent weeks but is now well down the road to making a deal with Intermedia. He recently stepped down from the board of German film group Splendid Medien, which owns 49% of IEG.

Both Intermedia and Splendid are traded on Germany’s Neuer Markt.

Intermedia Films currently holds international rights on Universal Pictures’ “K-Pax,” which opens today, as well as the upcoming Columbia pic “Adaptation” starring Nicolas Cage and Universal’s “The Life of David Gale.”

While many German film companies are reeling from stock market devaluation, Intermedia is still a dominant force, with a share price that has held up well under the strain of a shaky Neuer Markt. Company has financed or co-financed more than a dozen films since the merger of Intermedia Films and IMF-backed Pacifica in May 2000 to form holding company Internationalmedia.

IEG has made its name as a high-profile backer of such films as Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic”; Michael Mann’s upcoming “Ali,” which Columbia Pictures will release on Christmas Day; and Martin Scorsese’s “Gangs of New York,” which will be released next year by Miramax Films.

King also has strong talent relationships, including those with “Traffic” star Catherine Zeta-Jones, whose own production company, Milkwood Films, is based at IEG, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio, who recently launched his Appian Way shingle with a three-year first-look deal at IEG (Daily Variety, Aug. 6).

In addition to adding firepower to Intermedia in the form of King’s grade-A slate and his high-end talent relationships, deal would rep a merging of two of the top competitors in the cutthroat foreign sales arena.

Internationalmedia is headed by Moritz Borman, Nigel Sinclair and Guy East. Since the merger, company has made a number of high-profile hires, including veteran Disney exec Jere Hausfater, now president of Intermedia’s motion picture group, and former Warner Bros. Pictures VP Basil Iwanyk, now Intermedia’s production president.

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