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eOne completes acquisition of Alliance

Iintegration process to begin immediately

TORONTO

Entertainment One has completed its C$225 million ($228 million) acquisition of rival Alliance Films from Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Investissement Quebec, the company announced Wednesday.

The deal includes Alliance’s Canadian, U.K. and Spanish assets, bringing into eOne’s distribution relationship fold output agreements with Lionsgate, TWC, Focus Features and other companies in Canada; Summit and Lionsgate in Spain; and Relativity in Canada and the U.K.

President and CEO Darren Throop said Patrice Theroux — who left Alliance in 2006 after 18 years, eight as film prexy, to run eOne’s new film division — will continue to lead eOne Film, which includes an increasingly active U.S. distribution division.

“The more global we are gives us an even better position to be a player early on in securing rights that might more often include multiple territories,” Theroux told Variety, pointing to eOne’s release of David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis” in Canada, the U.K. and U.S. as an example of deals to come. A much higher visibility at the Berlin and Cannes markets is a given.

Victor Loewy, who founded Alliance with Robert Lantos in 1985, will not join the expanded eOne. “The Alliance Films brand and legacy will come to an end,” he said in a statement. “Whilst it’s been a privilege to be part of Alliance, having founded and been associated with the company for the past 40 years, I have decided not to be part of the new enterprise. Therefore, I will step down as chairman and CEO of Alliance with immediate effect and will open a new chapter in my life.”

Former Alliance prexy Charles Layton has also left to pursue other interests.

“We want to recognize Alliance’s leaders who have built a passionate team with a remarkable understanding of the international film business and their markets,” Throop said in a statement. “We look forward to forging relationships with our new partners, representing the very best in independent film across the globe, and delivering opportunities for continued growth by eOne on a multi-territory multi-platform basis. This acquisition better positions eOne to generate significant value for shareholders.”

Theroux added that eOne comprises teams brought together through the integration of Seville Films, Contender, Oasis Intl., Barna Alper, Blueprint and others.

“We have no doubt that our strong entrepreneurial organization will be further strengthened with the addition of our new colleagues,” he said. “We’re pleased to extend our robust international distribution infrastructure into Spain. Our enlarged platform and increased presence on the ground will create meaningful opportunities for innovation and growth throughout all territories and across our divisions.”

In Canada, Theroux said eOne will release roughly the same number of titles annually as the companies did separately (roughly 150 from eOne, 90 from Alliance), including French and English-language films.

Canadian feature producers rely on domestic distributors to help secure financing, including Telefilm funding. Alliance has long been the leader but eOne swiftly grew to become a major player on that front. The scope of eOne’s participation in domestic film remains a question for Canuck producers as the integration of the two companies’ infrastructures now proceeds apace.

“A lot of other Canadian distributors have made noise the past few months about increasing their participation and we encourage that, it’s healthy for the marketplace,” said Theroux. “We are the biggest exporter of Canadian and Quebec movies and we’re not shying away from that.”

The deal, cleared by the Canadian Competition Bureau last week, makes eOne the largest independent distributor in Canada and the U.K., and boosts eOne’s film library to more than 35,000 titles. eOne’s TV, music and film distribution pacts are unchanged by the deal.

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