Trimark on mark

Earnings up, chairman says he's not selling

In an attempt to dampen speculation that Trimark Holdings is up for sale, Trimark chairman Mark Amin has discontinued his company’s relationship with investment banking firm Societe Generale Bannon.

Trimark made the disclosure in its financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 1999, in which it reported earnings of $713,000 against a year-ago loss of $369,000.

Trimark’s bounce back into the black is a rather unexpected development at the indie distrib, which has weathered a string of senior executive defections this year.

While $240,000 of the profit was a tax refund, the improved results were due to the company’s substantially increased revenues from theatrical and homevideo.

In the past three months, Trimark said it had scored with the video titles “Chairman of the Board” and “Kid in Aladdin’s Palace.” The release of 12 digital videodisc titles also helped improve its bottom line.

In a prepared statement, Amin hinted that, after a thorough review undertaken by Bannon, he had decided not to sell Trimark — for now. “Societe Generale Bannon has been helpful over the past year as we reviewed strategic alternatives involving the company,” he said. “As the company’s review is complete, we do not require Bannon’s services at this time.”

Trimark retained Bannon’s services in July 1997. Since then, Amin has talked to many potential suitors, including Artisan Entertainment and Behaviour Worldwide. But despite numerous conversations, no deals ever materialized.

The split between Trimark and Bannon was entirely amicable, insiders stressed, with Amin declaring himself satisfied with the job done by Bannon.

One banking source with intimate knowledge of the company said that in the future Amin would focus Trimark even more heavily on niche fare and specialized film distribution.

Among the pics that Trimark has acquired this year are Larry Clark’s “Another Day in Paradise” and the Sundance prison drama “Slam.”

As part of its reorganization, in October Trimark initiated a series of staff cutbacks, targeting a 15% reduction in its workforce.

According to Amin, executive VP Cami Winikoff was partly responsible for the shift in strategy. “Trimark’s priorities will (be) specialized theatrical releases as well as production and distribution of genre films for worldwide television and homevideo markets,” he said.

The company’s upcoming releases include Spanish director Alex de la Iglesia’s cult chiller “The Day of the Beast.”