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Alliance Films acquiring Maple Pictures from Lions Gate

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Following through on its promise to investors last February to shed some non-core assets, Lions Gate Entertainment is selling Canadian distributor Maple Pictures to its larger rival Alliance Films for about $40 million, a person familiar with the matter confirmed.

Maple Pictures was formed in 2005 when it was spun off from Lions Gate. Its primary business is distributing movies, television shows and DVDs for Lions Gate in Canada, though it also acquires the rights to other films, such as the recently released children’s comedy ‘Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer.’

Originally, Lions Gate had a minority stake in Maple, but it has since become a majority owner and will own virtually the entire company when it is sold to Alliance, which people close to the situation said could happen as soon as Tuesday.

Other ‘non-core’ assets owned by Lions Gate that could be sold include its minority stakes in online video company Break.com and independent distributor Roadside Attractions. In May, analyst David Miller at Caris & Co. downgraded Lions Gate’s stock in part over concerns that it was having trouble finding buyers willing to pay a high enough price for the assets it wanted to sell.

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Maple Co-Presidents Laurie May and Brad Pelman will join Alliance along with their senior executives, a person close to the situation said. Alliance will assume Maple’s Canadian distribution agreement with Lions Gate.

[Update, June 23, 4:05 p.m.: The finalized deal was announced by Lions Gate and Alliance on June 23.]

News of the imminent sale was first reported by the entertainment industry website Deadline Hollywood.

-- Ben Fritz

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