Image gets makeover

Home entertainment distributor has cash, new executives

Finding itself drowning in debt last year, independent homevideo distributor Image Entertainment needed an extreme makeover.

It’s now starting off the year flush with new cash and a major overhaul of its top executive ranks, with former Anchor Bay topper Ted Green, film and TV producer John Hyde and John Avagliano now managing the company as chairman-CEO, vice chairman, and chief operating and financial officer, respectively.

The resignation of its top board members was deemed mandatory by San Francisco-based JH Partners, as part of the private equity firm’s deal to buy $22 million in Image stock. The sale closed Monday.

Image, based in Chatsworth, Calif., will use $15 million of the financing to pay off debt. It will use the rest to acquire new content to distrib across traditional and digital homevid formats. It also plans to pursue the acquisition of other companies here and overseas, now that the recession has made some outfits more financially attractive to buyers.

Image controls a library of 3,200 DVDs and 340 CDs that it distribs in North America, and roughly 400 programs overseas via sublicense agreements. It also maintains digital download rights to 2,000 video and 300 audio titles through its subsid Egami Media.

The company had recently been hit hard by failed merger attempts and consumers buying fewer DVDs, forcing it to default on a $4 million debt payment for a $15.7 million loan.

“Image can go in a lot of different directions,” Green said. “In the last couple of years this company has clearly had financial problems, but there are a lot of interesting possibilities out there now that we’re on stable footing for the future. While the new media marketplace poses great challenges for any home entertainment programmer, our goal is to strengthen Image Entertainment’s name while remaining synonymous with great product.”

Avagliano added that, “In the past, Image has focused primarily on content acquisition and distribution for the North American market,” but as it looks to expand into other English-speaking territories like the U.K. and Australia, as well as Europe and Asia, “we plan to build a strong international presence for the company as well.”

For the last two years, Green has been chairman of TM Entertainment and Media that merged last year with ChinaMedia Express. Before that, he spent three years as CEO and co-owner of homevideo indie Anchor Bay, and was founder and prexy of Sony Wonder, a youth-skewwing arm of Sony BMG Music.

Hyde, who is also currently vice chairman at the Jim Henson Co., is a TV and film producer whose credits include “The Simpsons,” “King of the Hill,” and pics “The Neverending Story,” “Short Circuit” and “Das Boot.” Hyde is currently producing a third installment of “Short Circuit” with the Weinstein Co., and is developing “Flight of the Navigator 2” at Disney. He also previously served as chief operating officer of Starz Media and IDT Entertainment, and CEO of IDT Prods and Film Roman, the toon studio behind “The Simpsons.”

Meanwhile Avagliano is currently president of Britannia Holdings, a strategic and financial management services film whose clients include Live Nation, Ticketmaster and Palm Pictures. He’s also held senior financial posts at Warner Music Group, Warner Home Entertainment and Polygram Records.

“We are excited to partner with an experienced and proven management team and feel confident that the combination of their strategic vision and a healthy balance sheet will afford impressive growth opportunities for Image,” said JH Partners’ Patrick M. Collins.

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