Motion Picture gets court to stop Loewy
Alliance Atlantis’ distrib arm Motion Picture Distribution won an injunction from Ontario court Friday to stop former chairman Victor Loewy from setting up a competing company.It’s the latest in an acrimonious split between Canada’s largest distributor and its three former senior executives. Earlier in the week MPD launched a lawsuit against ousted CEO Patrice Theroux and general counsel Paul Laberge for what it claims is breach of duty while with the company. MPD claims they had been “willfully deceiving and withholding material information from the board, advancing business activities for personal gain, and misusing confidential information and company financial and other resources for personal gain.” It also wants to enforce non-compete, non-solicitation and confidentiality obligations against Loewy. MPD alleges that while working for MDP Loewy was in talks with film studios to supply his new firm and that he has been wooing MDP executives. Theroux and Laberge were fired by the MDP board in mid-July, reportedly for planning a management buyout of MPD. MPD claimed that Loewy had then resigned, but his lawyers said that Loewy also was fired and that a letter was delivered to Loewy’s home by MPD the following day purportedly accepting his resignation. The three execs claim Alliance Atlantis was refusing to acknowledge a C$414 million ($372.6 million) bid from London-based Marwyn Investments. The future of some MDP distribution contracts is thought to be in jeopardy without Loewy, who co-founded Alliance Communications and has worked in the distrib biz for 30 years. The New Line contract is the most vulnerable, since it contains a key man clause, allowing it to dissolve the deal if Loewy leaves. New Line will decide how to proceed in mid-September. MDP also has contracts with Focus Features, the Weinstein Co. and Miramax. Brass at Alliance Atlantis have said that MDP will not go on the block until it completes an internal strategic review in the fall. MPD is 51% owned by Alliance Atlantis and 49% owned by the Movie Distribution Income Fund, which Alliance Atlantis set up three years ago. The injunction against Loewy will last until the court meets again in about a month.