Lions Gate founder and mining entrepreneur Frank Guistra is leaving his post as chairman and has sold most of his 6% stake in the Vancouver-based film and TV company to Los Angeles-based ENT Holding Corp. for $5.5 million.
Sam Gores, president and founder of talent agency Paradigm, orchestrated the investment. Gores’ brothers, financiers Tom T. Gores and Alec Gores, back ENT Holding.
Andre Link, who has been president of Lions Gate since April 2000 and was the founder of Lions Gate Films, succeeds Guistra as chairman. Lions Gate prexy Harald Ludwig, a director since the company’s inception, becomes vice chairman.
Guistra said Lions Gate CEO “Jon Feltheimer and his senior management team are superbly executing Lions Gate’s business plan, so the timing is right for me to move on. I am delighted that this decision coincides with the timing of ENT Holdings’ desire to make a significant investment in Lions Gate’s future.”
Guistra, who will maintain a common-share position in the company, has been nonexecutive chairman of Lions Gate for two years. He stepped down as CEO in 2000 to be replaced by Feltheimer.
“Andre and I are delighted to welcome investors of this caliber, whose reputation for value creation speaks for itself, and we are pleased that they share our vision for Lions Gate,” Feltheimer said. “I’ve also known Sam Gores for 25 years and appreciate his role in initiating this investment.”
Guistra now will concentrate on his mining interests, including his one-third stake in Vancouver mining consulting firm Endeavour Financial.
Before founding Lions Gate in 1997, Guistra was an investment dealer and former chairman of the Toronto-based investment brokerage Yorkton Securities.
In February, Sam and Tom Gores paid $45 million to acquire the old MCA headquarters in L.A.
With Guistra’s departure, the recent death of Woody Knight and the resignations of Joe Houssian and Doug Holtby, four Lions Gate board seats required replacement.
The new directors are Gary Newton, a Montreal-based senior exec with L.A.-based investment firm Platinum Equity; Mitchell Wolfe, an entertainment lawyer with Canadian law firm Beard Winter; and David Doerksen, a Saskatchewan-based producer.
Jeff Sagansky, the preferred shareholders’ nominee and a senior executive formerly with Sony, CBS and Paxson Communications, replaces Knight.