Market Insight

Entertainment One purchase of Alliance Films approved

January 07, 2013

Tim Westcott Tim Westcott Director, Research and Analysis, Programming

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Independent film and television producer and distributor Entertainment One Ltd (eOne) has completed its purchase of Alliance Films, first announced in September 2012, after getting the go-ahead from the Canadian Competition Bureau. The Montreal-based Alliance was purchased from GS Capital Partners and Société générale de financement du Québec for a reported $225m (Canadian).

In addition to the Canadian rights for 11,000 film and television titles across all distribution platforms, the acquisition includes UK-based distribution arm Momentum Pictures and Spain-based Aurum Producciones.

With eOne's own film and television production, cross-platform distribution, sales and acquisition operations already firmly established in Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Benelux, and with other strategic relationships in Europe, South Africa and South Korea in place, the acquisition of Alliance Films does not significantly expand the company's international reach.

The purchase of Alliance Films is a continuation of eOne's strategy to deepen its current library of 24, 000 titles through the acquisition of other filmed content production and distribution companies in key territories. The company, which is listed on the Toronto stock exchange, is looking to safeguard and drive long-term value by acquiring the rights to filmed content which is exploitable across multiple content distribution platforms.

Key acquisitions by the company have included the UK home entertainment distributor Contender Entertainment in 2007 and Dutch film distributor RCV Entertainment in 2008. In addition to an expanded content library, Alliance Films also brings a new pool of television and film production partnerships and studio output deals. The purchase will also make eOne the largest independent distributor of film and television content in both the UK and Canada (in the case of Canada, eOne is now also the largest producer of content).

In its statement on the deal, the Competition Bureau said that eOne and Alliance each hold substantial market share of the distribution of Canadian films but that it did not believe the combination would lead to a substantial prevention of competition in either the distribution or financing of Canadian productions given the array of policies in place. The Bureau also noted that over 97 per cent of box office revenues in Canada are generated from non-Canadian films (87 per cent in French-speaking regions).

Alliance Films was founded in the early 1980s, merging with another Canadian producer/distributor to form Alliance Atlantis in 1998. The company ran into financial difficulties despite co-producing the popular CSI TV series and operating successful cable and satellite channels, and was sold to CanWest and Goldman Sachs in 2007; the CSI franchise was sold to GS, with CBS acquiring international distribution rights, while Shaw Media acquired the channels business. Société générale de financement du Québec - an investment company owned by the provincial government - bought into the film distribution company the following year.

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