Ben Ammar builds Euro empire

Eagle joins distribution network

Tarak Ben Ammar has acquired control of Eagle Pictures, the Italian distrib specializing in Hollywood genre pics, in a deal that values Eagle at e85 million ($125 million) as the Franco-Tunisian producer continues his drive to set up a pan-European distribution network.

Ben Ammar, topper of Paris-based Quinta Communications and a Weinstein Co. board member, told Daily Variety that he’s been entrusted by Goldman Sachs to be its “European strategic investor” to create a “one-stop shopping distribution network” for independent producers in Europe and Canada.

Goldman Sachs owns a stake in Canada’s Alliance Atlantis, which in turn owns distribs Momentum in the U.K. and Aurum in Spain.

Ben Ammar said he’s also in advanced negotiations to buy up Nordic distribution giant Scanbox Entertainment and is “looking at options in Germany.”

“We will be the first big major European movie company,” said Ben Ammar, a longtime associate of Silvio Berlusconi and adviser to Rupert Murdoch, in a phone interview on Friday before announcing the Eagle deal in Milan.

Ben Ammar added that the company “will have a European strategy of both buying and co-financing with independents.”

Ben Ammar’s Italian media company, Prima TV, has acquired a 75% stake in Eagle Pictures from shareholders and banks, including Milan equity firm Bs Private Equity, following the exit of Eagle’s founders, brothers Stefano and Ciro Dammicco.

Eagle, which has a 5% market share this year, has close ties to Hollywood companies including New Line, Lionsgate and Bob Yari Prods.

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