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PolyGram Buys Film-TV Group for $156 Million

TIMES STAFF WRITER

European entertainment conglomerate PolyGram, making its first venture into the television distribution business, said Tuesday that it has bought International Television Corp. Entertainment Group for $156 million.

As part of the deal, PolyGram, which is 75%-owned by Dutch electronics giant Philips, bought ITC’s film and television library, which includes such feature films as “On Golden Pond” and “Sophie’s Choice” and television shows such as “The Saint” and the miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth.” All told, ITC’s library includes about 350 films.

The purchase is another step by PolyGram in its efforts to build an integrated studio that within the next two to three years is expected to include a film distribution operation.

The company already has an active film production operation, whose biggest hit to date has been the comedy “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” The latest acquisition, which was finalized Jan. 1, represents PolyGram’s first major purchase of a film and television library, which will help provide a steady flow of income while the company produces films.

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Michael Kuhn, who heads PolyGram’s film business, said he was intrigued by the feature film potential for some classic television shows ITC owns, such as the cult series “The Prisoner” and the “Thunderbirds” children’s show.

“At first, it didn’t look like a sexy catalogue. But the more we looked at it, the more we found it had hidden jewels,” Kuhn said.

PolyGram bought ITC from Montagu Private Equity, a unit of HSBC Investment Bank.


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