E1 takes Blueprint, Barna-Alper, Oasis and Maximum
In a mega-acquisition deal, upstart Entertainment One is the new owner of four major content companies, looking to become the pre-eminent force in Canadian film and TV distribution
In a major move to enlarge its Canadian distribution footprint, Entertainment One has acquired TV producers Blueprint Entertainment and Barna-Alper Productions as well as domestic distributors Oasis International and Maximum Films.
The deal, stage-managed by Robert Lantos, who owns stakes in all four companies, positions E1 to better compete on the motion picture side against Alliance Films, Canada’s largest indie distributor, through the horizontal integration of several smaller indie players.
On the TV side, E1 has acquired a supply of TV programming to sell to broadcasters on both sides of the border, boosting its library to more than 9,300 hours of programming.
Darren Throop, CEO of E1, says the newly acquired TV companies will come together as a leaner unified group to eliminate duplication and streamline business operations.
‘We are now able to create television programs at a unique risk-return profile and direct this content as well as our increased film content to our multiple-territory distribution companies and realize all of the synergies of this direct access,’ he says.
On the distribution front, Maximum Films will merge with Seville Entertainment, after the movie distributors earlier combined their backroom operations.
Throop ads that the consolidation of the two ‘will result in an enhanced theatrical market share in Canada and a company which is enviably well-positioned for international sales and distribution.’
The three TV companies and the combined Maximum-Seville entity will in turn join the previously acquired Contender Entertainment Group in Britain and Benelux distributor RCV Entertainment under E1′s filmed entertainment umbrella led by president Patrice Théroux.
Blueprint’s John Morayniss becomes CEO of E1′s TV group, while, just under him, Barna-Alper’s Laszlo Barna will serve as president of TV production, and Oasis’ Peter Emerson becomes president of international TV distribution. Blueprint co-founder Noreen Halpern becomes president of U.S. TV production, based in Los Angeles.
Lantos will join the E1 board, and signs a non-competition agreement with the Canadian distribution powerhouse, which will release his past and future films.
Former CBS president Jeff Sagansky, who has a stake in Blueprint, Peace Arch Entertainment and the U.K.’s ContentFilm, now becomes an E1 shareholder.
The latest acquisitions continue a year-long buying binge by E1, which is looking to consolidate indie players in Canada, the Benelux, Britain and the U.S., where it is already present, with likely forays into the German, French, Australian and Scandinavian markets.
The acquisitions are also a prelude to E1 — which already trades on Britain’s AIM market — securing a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange.