Alliance to sell MPD stake

Canadian distrib owns U.K.'s Momentum, Spain's Aurum

LONDON — Motion Picture Distribution, Canada’s leading indie and owner of Momentum Pictures in the U.K. and Aurum in Spain, has officially been put up for sale by its parent Alliance Atlantis.

Alliance put out a statement to the Toronto stock exchange Friday that it had completed its strategic review of its holding in MPD, and decided to explore the possible sale of all or part of its 51% stake in the company. The remainder of MPD is publicly owned via an income trust listed in Toronto.

Potential bidders include Marwyn, a London-based hedge fund, which offered just over 10 Canadian dollars ($8.81) a share to acquire MPD earlier this summer and Goldman Sachs, which also spent several months doing due diligence on MPD but was warned off making a bid by Alliance until the strategic review was completed.

“We have concluded it is not necessary for (Alliance) to own an interest in MPD in order for us to benefit from MPD’s content and create value for our core broadcasting business,” said Alliance CEO Phyllis Yaffe.

David Lazzarato, exec vp and chief financial officer of Alliance, added, “In light of this conclusion, we will be exploring own-ership alternatives, including selling some or all of our holding in MPD, on acceptable financial terms and with appropriate long-term commercial arrangements in place.”

Marwyn managing director James Corsellis commented, “We’re very pleased with the announcement and look forward to en-gaging with Alliance at the appropriate time.”

MPD was plunged into turmoil this summer when its board suddenly fired CEO Patrice Theroux and general counsel Paul Laberge, who had been exploring buy-out options. That also prompted the resignation of founder and chairman Victor Loewy.

But that dispute was settled last month, with Loewy returning as chairman emeritus. His return meant that MPD was able to hang onto its Canadian distribution deal with New Line, which is the company’s single biggest supplier.

Company also has output deals with Focus Features, Miramax and the Weinstein Co.

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