Loewy, MPD make nice

Distrib impresario reaches deal with Canadian org

One of the nastiest scraps to hit the Canadian film scene in recent years received a storybook ending as outspoken distribution impresario Victor Loewy and Motion Picture Distribution reached a settlement.

Deal makes Loewy, the former MPD chairman who quit in July, an independent consultant to the company with the title of chairman emeritus. His primary responsibility will be MPD’s lucrative output deal with New Line.

An income trust controlled by Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis Communications, MPD is Canada’s largest distributor, sporting output deals with New Line, Focus Features, Miramax and the Weinstein Co. MDP also owns Momentum Pictures in the U.K. and Aurum in Spain.

The New Line output deal contains a “key man clause” citing Loewy that put the contract in jeopardy when Loewy ankled.

New Line confirmed on Friday that it will continue its output agreement with MPD until the end of 2008 — the same time Loewy’s agreement expires — though the company retains the option to walk away if Loewy leaves.

“We are delighted to be able to continue our longstanding supply arrangement with New Line and are looking forward to working with Victor in his new capacity,” said MPD chief exec John Bailey.

MPD is also dropping its court action against former CEO Patrice Theroux and general counsel Paul Laberge, who were fired in July. They are rumored to be receiving an unspecified financial package.

All three settlements include confidentiality and non-compete covenants.

Loewy, Theroux and Laberge could not be reached for comment.

“We are pleased to have resolved matters with Patrice and Paul and wish them well in their future endeavors,” said David Lazzarato, MPD chairman of the board.

Industry observers say it is in everyone’s interest to “play nice” to stabilize company’s market trading so that MPD, which will soon be up for sale, can fetch the best price possible.

London-based Marwyn Investments went public in August with notice of a cash offer of C$394 million-C$414 million ($353 million-$371 million) for MPD that would see Loewy, Theroux and Laberge head up the enterprise.

AAC has said it will not sell MPD until it completes a strategic review of the company.

In a terse statement giving the Loewy/MDP settlement two thumbs up, AAC promised to complete its review “as soon as possible.”

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