LONDON — Redbus Film Group, the year-old U.K. indie distrib, has confirmed plans for an IPO in the next two months. Offering is expected to value the company at up to $500 million.
“We’re going to really radically change the British film business,” predicted CEO Simon Franks. “This float will make us the biggest film company the British film industry has ever seen.”
Company, which will list simply as Filmgroup, will be the first U.K. movie player to debut on the main London Stock Exchange. A handful are quoted on the smaller Alternative Investment Market, but most British film companies are privately held.
Filmgroup is planning to launch a video-on-demand service via the Web by the end of this year. The IPO coin will bankroll these VOD ambitions, as well as funding movie acquisitions for Redbus Film Distribution, the company’s traditional theatrical arm.
But VOD, under the banner Films2.com, will be Filmgroup’s core business. Franks plans to roll out the VOD service across all of Europe, starting with the U.K. later this year and followed next year by Scandinavia.
Company, backed by Web millionaire Cliff Stanford, has developed its own Internet technology, which it claims allows the service to be tailored to individual countries — a key breakthrough in persuading rights owners to license their films for Web distribution.
According to Franks, company has already spent “tens of millions of dollars” in recent weeks buying up exclusive VOD rights to major international pics. Redbus has already announced a deal with Germany’s Intertainment for U.K. free-TV and VOD rights to a package of pics including “Battlefield Earth” and “The Whole Nine Yards.”
Redbus Film Distribution, meanwhile, has built up a U.K. theatrical slate which includes Ben Elton’s “Maybe Baby,” Oscar-winning docu “One Day in September,” David Mamet’s “State and Main” and Sam Raimi’s “The Gift.”
Filmgroup’s strategy is to secure 50 new films a year on an exclusive basis for Films2.com, with 25 pics coming through its theatrical arm and the other 25 picked up solely for VOD. In addition, the company is acquiring large volumes of library product.
Aside from Franks, the company’s key execs include Stewart Till, former president of Universal Pictures Intl., who recently came on board as part-time strategy director. RFD also picked up the former UPI and Polygram marketing team headed by Chris Bailey. Veteran film accountant Larry Chrisfield is executive deputy chairman, with Stanford as non-exec chair.Filmgroup will float by issuing new stock, expected to be 25%-35% of the company. Price will value the overall group at £200 million-£300 million ($320 million-$480 million). On that basis, the equity raised will be $80 million-$170 million.
ABN AMRO Rothschild has been appointed financial adviser, global coordinator and sole lead manager for the flotation.