Blockbuster Entertainment, the home entertainment chain, has sold its Irish subsidiary Xtra-vision to local consortium Birchhall Investments for $45m (€32million).
The consortium includes members of the company’s management team, who have a 10% holding, and venture capitalists Pageant Holdings. The deal is funded by Bank of Scotland (Ireland).
Pageant was previously the majority shareholder in Xtra-vision, which is the largest players in the Irish home entertainment market, until it was acquired by Blockbuster in 1997. Pageant principal Peter O’Grady Walshe is a former Xtra-vision managing director.
Xtra-vision, which has 186 outlets and 1,400 employees, posted pre-tax profits of $8.8m (€6.2m) in 2008. The company is being sold free of debt and the price achieved is contingent on forecast earnings for 2009, for which there is a significant seasonal contribution expected in the last quarter.
Martin Higgins, Xtra-Vision CEO, is to stay with Blockbuster after the deal, to manage its British and European operations.
Xtra-vision has had some financial involvement with local film production and distribution both through pre-buying rights for the Irish market and by offering a premium for exclusive distribution deals on certain Irish films.