Alliance AtlantisCommunications (AAC) is for sale. The Canadian entertainment company announcedlast night that its controlling shareholder, Southhill Strategy, has been"exploring strategic alternatives". Southhill is owned by AAC executivechairman Michael MacMillan and former AAC executive Seaton McLean, two of thefounders of the original company, Atlantis Communications. The move comes twomonths after AAC announced its intention to seek a buyer for its releasing arm,Motion Picture Distribution (MPD).

In a statement, AAC saidSouthill had recently sought expressions of interest from selected potentialbuyers. It said Southill has not arrived at a decision but that if it does notsell its controlling stake, a sale of AAC is unlikely. It was not immediatelyclear whether the AAC sale would include MPD.

As well as its releasingassets - MPD controls Momentum Releasing in the UK and Aurum in Spain - AACowns 13 specialty TV channels and is the worldwide distributor of the hittelevision franchise CSI: Crime Scene Investigation outside the US. Speculation on potential buyerspointed to CanWest Global Communications and Montreal-based Astral Media, whichoperates pay TV services and specialty French-language channels, and Canada'stwo largest cable operators Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications. Thebuyer is likely to be Canadian given restrictions imposed on foreign ownershipof broadcast assets.

AAC has retained RBC CapitalMarkets as its financial advisor and Bennett Jones LLP as its legal advisor.