“Independent films will remain our bread and butter”, says eOne CEO after acquisition of Alliance Films for $230m; further acquisitions possible.
eOne CEO Darren Throop [pictured] has told Screen that while the acquisition of Alliance (see full story here) gives it the potential to distribute bigger-budget films, “independent films will remain our bread and butter”.
“Our strategy is a portfolio approach. We, like Alliance, don’t want to risk everything on really big films. We are very committed to independent film. That is our bread and butter. That will be the core part of our strategy,” he said.
Throop confirmed that the operations will merge in the UK and Canada but said it will be “some months” before the company announces the personnel makeup of the combined Entertainment One - Alliance Films operations:
“We need to go through the competition approval process in Canada first before we talk about that. Both companies have excellent executives and we want to make the best team we can. We’ll be contemplating the team until the deal is finalised but we won’t be commenting on it until then. As soon as we get approval a new team will be in place”.
The merged company will be called eOne.
Throop said he doesn’t foresee any hold-ups from the Canadian Competition Bureau: “It’s a process we have to go through but we don’t foresee any problems with it. It just takes some time. There won’t be any legislative hurdles in the UK or Spain, either.”
Clearance from the Competition Bureau can take between 45 days and six months, but Throop anticipates that the deal will close in “significantly less time” than the longest case scenario.
eOne will hold a shareholder meeting on September 28 before its shares are submitted to the London Stock Exchange.
Throop said the timing of the announcement wasn’t made to coincide with the opening of the Toronto International Film Festival: “We didn’t plan this timing, to be honest. These deals have a life of their own.”
The CEO also said that eOne’s acquisitions plan isn’t over: “We’ve been consistent in our strategy and we want to continue to expand our global footprint. We are still interested in places like Latin America and Eastern Europe, Germany and France. If the right opportunity arises we’d love to be in those places.”
Throop confirmed that as part of the $230m deal, eOne has payed Alliance Films co-owners Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and the investment division of the Quebec government C$174.2 (£111.35m) in cash and it will pay down Alliance’s net debt of approximately C$50.5m (£32.3m).
The company’s US distribution business is also set for expansion: “As we build it we will continue to augment our team. Our US strategy is to release 12-15 films per year but we’re looking for additional opportunites,” Throop said.