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AAC trims its board

Alliance completes merger, prepares for initial losses

TORONTO — Alliance Atlantis Communications is truly merged. As the long-in-coming final integration for the merger of two of Canada’s largest production companies several years ago, AAC has halved its board of directors to 10.

The reduction was announced at the company’s annual general meeting in Toronto Wednesday. “The board had been at the size it was as a result of the merger,” said Heather Conway, AAC’s recently appointed senior VP of communications. “It’s really a governance issue.”

Off the board are AAC executives including Victor Loewy, Judson Martin, Ted Riley, Sean McLean and Phyllis Yaffe. Michael MacMillan will remain as the only company insider. Margot Northey, dean of the Queen’s University School of Business, is the board’s only new appointee.

Capping off a successful year for the company, which included the acquisition of Halifax-based Salter Street Films and the launch this month of six new digital specialty channels, AAC prexy and CEO Michael MacMillan noted that the company is as well-positioned as it can be for the economic downturn that began before Sept. 11, and is expected to deepen. “We haven’t seen a slowdown,” he told reporters, “but we have to imagine that our company is not immune.”

MacMillan says the company’s new digital channels, including Food Network Canada, National Geographic Channel, and, subject to CRTC approval, the Independent Film Channel, are strong on infrastructure, brand identity and content and are expected to break even in three years. AAC expects to lose C$17 million ($10.8 million) on them in the first year as Canadians get to know them, and less in the second.

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