eOne eyes Alliance takeover

Revenue rises 7% to $790 million

TORONTO — Toronto-based distributor and producer eOne has ended weeks of speculation by confirming its board has held discussions about acquiring rival Alliance Films.

Noting there is no certainty talks will lead to a deal, the company added that such a transaction would need to be “financially and strategically value-enhancing” for eOne and, if agreed on, would be financed through a combination of committed debt facilities and the proceeds of an equity placing.

In January, the Bank of Montreal was appointed to sell Montreal-headquartered Alliance Films, which also operates in the U.K. and Spain. Around two-thirds of Alliance is owned by Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, with the rest owned by Investissement Quebec, the investment arm of the Quebec government.

After a five-month review ending February 2012, and fielding offers for all and parts of the company, eOne determined that continuing its aggressive acquisition strategy would deliver maximum value for shareholders.

News of the Alliance talks came as eOne unveiled its annual results for the year ending March 31. The company, which trades on the London Stock Exchange, reported a $37 million profit before tax, up 103% from 2011, and an overall revenue of $803 million, up 7% from the previous year, while the underlying EBITDA (profit for the year from continuing operations before operating one-off items, share-based payment charges, interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of intangible assets) rose 23.8% to $84 million.

The 152 pics released theatrically by eOne took in gross box office receipts of $212 million, compared with $202 million in 2011, while digital sales doubled to $105.5 million, reflecting the impact of the exclusive five-year deal in the U.K. with Lovefilm and growth in North America.

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