Canal Plus Image unveiled details of its flotation today (April 19) and announced it is doubling its investment in film this year and has struck a production deal with Mitch Horwits, the former president of Spelling Films.
Canal Plus Image, which has renamed itself StudioCanal, is launching a share offering that will raise around euro200m and leave the division with a market capitalisation approaching euro1.4bn. The offering price for the new shares, which will represent 14.29% of the fully diluted capital, have been set at between euro13.5 and euro15.6. Merrill Lynch, ABN AMRO Rothschild and Schroders have been retained to handle the share placement.
StudioCanal comprises, among other operations, Le Studio Canal Plus film production and rights trading operation, the world's third largest film library with 5,500 titles, and a European distribution network. Its current investment in film-related activities will double this year to euro370m.
At the same time, the French media player has signed a deal with US producer Mitch Horwits, who is close to sealing a domestic partnership with Paramount Pictures, and is negotiating a second deal with another as-yet-unnamed US producer. Horwits has been looking for a new backer ever since 1998 when Spelling was shut down by Paramount's owner Viacom despite the box office success of films such as In & Out and Breakdown. It is thought that Horwits inherited some of the Spelling projects that had been in development.
Through its Los Angeles-based US operation, co-chaired by Stephane Sperry and Richard Garzilli, StudioCanal has already struck alliances with various US producers such as Phoenix Pictures, Bel Air Entertainment, Mandalay Entertainment and Spyglass Entertainment, as well as with Working Title Films. It recently announced that it is to co-finance Numbers, a $70m comedy starring John Travolta with Paramount Pictures.
The company has a joint acquisition and distribution venture with Pathe (C+P) to acquire European rights to high-end US titles ( Mission to Marsand Chicken Run.
On the theatrical distribution side, StudioCanal is currently setting up a "European studio operation". Three pieces of the puzzle are already in place: Bac Distribution, a joint venture between Le Studio Canal Plus (renamed Studio Canal France) and Bac Films, for France, Tobis in Germany (called Studio Canal Deutschland) and Sogepaq in Spain (called Studio Canal Espana). An Italian and British distribution set-up are currently being negotiated (notably with Pathe Pictures for the UK).
Earlier this year, Studio Canal merged its television activities (Ellipse Programme), with those of France's largest television producer, the Expand group, but is considering buying back the shares held by Expand's main shareholder Finexpand in 2000 or 2001.
Head of Canal Plus Image Vincent Grimond has been named chairman and CEO of StudioCanal, which reported revenues of euro339 million and a net income of euro6.8 million in 1999.