Unit posts healthy earnings despite sale

TORONTO — Alliance Atlantis Communications is going out with a bang: The Toronto-based broadcaster, film distributor and stakeholder in the “CSI” franchise powerhouse posted healthy upticks in revenue and earnings on the eve of the closure of its sale to CanWest Global Communications and Goldman Sachs for C$2.3 billion ($2.2 billion).

Strong ad and subscription revenue and continued strong international “CSI” sales get the credit for a 65% increase in net earnings for the quarter ended June 30 to $40.3 million.

Combined revenue for the second quarter climbed 10% to $261 million. Broadcasting revenue for the company’s 13 cable channels was up 12% to $80.5 million, revenue in the AAC-controlled Motion Picture Distribution income fund climbed 6% to $81.6 million, and revenue for the “CSI” division was up 18% to $93.7 million.

“CSI,” “CSI: Miami” and “CSI: NY” are entering their eighth, sixth and fourth seasons, respectively.

“It is extremely satisfying to see such strong financial and operational results across our business,” said Michael MacMillan, AAC’s executive chairman and co-founder. The results “are a testament to the exceptional value that has been created by our employees, management, board and business partners.”

Sale of the company to CanWest Global and Goldman Sachs, announced in January, closes today. Pending regulatory approval following a hearing by the CRTC booked for next month, CanWest will take over management of the broadcast division, while Goldman Sachs takes ownership of the “CSI” holdings, and the controlling stake of the company’s movie distribution biz will be managed by Toronto-based venture capital company EdgeStone Capital Partners. Goldman Sachs and EdgeStone have said they intend to purchase the 49% of Motion Picture Distribution that is publicly traded.

If the broadcast portion of the deal is approved, Goldman Sachs and CanWest Global will divide up their holdings in 2011, and CanWest will have the opportunity to buy out Goldman Sachs’ stake in its Canadian broadcasting division over the course of the next several years.

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