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Prime Focus Technologies to buy Culver City firm DAX

Prime Focus, the India-based post-production and media technology company, is expanding its presence in Hollywood.

The technology subsidiary of the Mumbai-based conglomerate has signed an agreement to acquire DAX, a fast-growing Culver City company that helps major studios manage their digital work flow needs.

Prime Focus Technologies will pay up to $12.5 million over three years to acquire the assets of DAX, which is best known for a service that enables  studio executives and filmmakers to watch digital dailies -- scenes from movies and TV shoots -- on their iPads. The companies are expected to make the formal announcement Tuesday.

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The acquisition will enable Prime Focus Technologies, which serves broadcasters and film studios worldwide, to expand its North American business. DAX’s cloud-based production work flow and digital asset management system is used by several studios, including Warner Bros. Television, CBS, Fox Television Studios, Legendary, Starz and Lionsgate.

DAX won a Primetime Emmy Engineering Award last year for its digital dailies technology, which helped to make it an attractive asset for Prime Focus Technologies.

“DAX has an Emmy-award winning product that is the de facto stand-in in the digital asset management space,” said Prime Focus Technologies founder and chief executive Ramki Sankaranarayanan. “They have some awesome customers.”

The acquisition, which is expected to close in the coming weeks, comes at a time when studios are increasingly in need of systems that enable them to quickly access large data files -- documents, video and graphics -- on computers and mobile devices.

The deal further consolidates Prime Focus’ business in Hollywood, where its visual effects subsidiary already handles 3-D conversions and digital effects for major titles, including the recent Oscar-winning movie “Gravity.”

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It also marks the latest entry by an Indian company into the U.S. entertainment industry.

A division of Indian conglomerate Reliance ADA Group operates a chain of Indian-language movie theaters in the U.S. called Big Cinemas, and an image processing center in Burbank, Lowry Digital, a film restoration business it acquired in 2008.

In Sept. 2012, Reliance teamed up with a Chinese film and TV company to buy the Venice effects studio Digital Domain out of bankruptcy.

DAX, formerly known as Sample Digital, employs nearly 50 people. The company, which also has an office in Toronto, has seen 70% growth in revenue over the last three years, company executives say.

“PFT has tremendous resources at its disposal,” said Patrick Macdonald-King, chief executive of DAX, who will assume the role of president and join Prime Focus Technologies’ North American leadership team. “This marriage allows DAX to fulful its vision.”

Prime Focus Technologies plans to retain the current Culver City workforce and expand operations in London and New York, where Prime Focus has offices.

“The employees are an important component of our strategy,” Sankaranarayanan said. “I really want to expand our teams here in North America.”

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richard.verrier@latimes.com

Twitter: @rverrier

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