Australian Group Buys 24.4% Stake in Barris From Sugarman

Times Staff Writer

An Australian joint venture that operates one of that country's top commercial television networks has purchased a 24.4% interest in Beverly Hills-based Barris Industries Inc. for $34.5 million.

Westfield Capital Corp. and Northern Star Holdings Ltd. acquired the stake previously held by financier Burt Sugarman's Giant Group Ltd. As part of the sale, Sugarman will resign as chairman of Barris, along with Giant's three other members of the Barris board.

Sugarman's exit leaves Barris in the hands of Peter Guber and Jon Peters, the prolific Hollywood movie producing team whose latest effort, "Rain Man," just won four Oscars, including one for Best Picture.

Guber and Peters--who merged their Guber-Peters Co. with Barris in December, 1987--will function as "joint managing directors" of the new company, said Frank Lowy, chairman of Westfield and Northern Star. "Guber and Peters are taking over operating control of Barris," Lowy said. "They will have five-year contracts, full operational responsibility and full creative and financial control." Lowy will become chairman of the new company, which will be renamed sometime in the future.

"This new partnership makes Barris a global entertainment company concentrating totally on entertainment, movies, TV, video and music," Guber said Friday.

As part of the purchase agreement, the Australian joint venture will have the right to name half of the members of Barris' board. In addition, the Australian rights to all television, movie and recording properties developed by Barris will be available to Northern Star's Network Ten Australia.

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