Bac IPO still on track amid merger shuffle

Labadie sez Vivendi 'won't affect me'

PARIS — French indie distributor Jean Labadie, whose Bac Distribution joint venture with Studio Canal is one of the many partnerships that could be affected by the Vivendi-Seagram deal, is forging ahead with an IPO launch next month.

He will float up to 25% of his Bac Majestic group, which includes the distribution arm Bac Films and Majestic, a chain of cinemas in Paris. The company also possesses a sizable film library.

Alongside those activities, Bac Distribution was set up with Studio Canal earlier this year as a French pipeline for the Studio’s films.

This and distribution deals Studio Canal is putting into place in other European territories could suffer as a result of Vivendi’s acquisition of Universal, which recently renewed a five-year deal with UIP.

No merger jitters

But if Labadie is nervous about the impact of the Vivendi-Seagram deal on the joint venture, he wasn’t showing it Wednesday, insisting: “it won’t affect me at all.”

“Bac Distribution is the same kind of arrangement as the one between UGC and Fox — it is a way to share costs. But my primary goal is to distribute films which go in my library,” Labadie said. “If Canal has a film suitable to go through UIP, it could be that Bac might also be financing that film.”

Later this year, Bac will distribute the Coen brothers’ Cannes-selected “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Labadie said that Bac’s expertise in France will ensure a steady flow of films in that league.

The chipper Frenchman went further, saying that the all-out pursuit of content by so many communications groups right now was a very positive sign for groups like Bac.

“If anything, the fact that the valuation of Universal went so high proves the absolute need for content companies like Bac, and that is good news,” he observed.

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