Goldman Sachs, not a name usually associated with Oscar-winning films, is scaling back its profile in Hollywood after putting Alliance Films, which financed The King’s Speech , up for sale, according to several people familiar with the situation.
Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, the bank’s private equity arm, owns about two-thirds of Alliance, with the rest of the Canadian film finance and distribution group owned by Investissement Québec, the investment arm of the Quebec government.
Bank of Montreal has been appointed to sell Alliance, which operates a growing film distribution business, with networks in Canada, the UK – where it owns Momentum Pictures – and Spain. Both Alliance and Goldman declined to comment.
Goldman’s ownership of the Alliance stake is linked to its 2007 purchase of Alliance Atlantis Communications, when it joined forces with CanWest Global Communications, the Canadian media group, to acquire the company in a $2.3bn deal.
At the time, Alliance owned a group of Canadian cable channels and a 50 per cent stake in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation hit TV franchise. CanWest would eventually seek bankruptcy protection; then, in 2010, the Alliance cable channels were sold by Goldman to Shaw Communications for $2bn.
That deal left Goldman and IQ with the CSI stake and Alliance Films but, after scoring with a string of box-office hits, the decision was made to sell the film company, said people familiar with the situation. The CSI stake will not be included in the Alliance Films sale, which means Goldman will continue to own a TV franchise that has been syndicated and sold around the world.
Alliance backed The King’s Speech, which cost $8m to produce and went on to gross more than $400m worldwide and pick up four Oscars, including best picture and best actor for Colin Firth. The company also invested in the recent horror hit Insidious, which generated close to $100m despite costing only $1.5m to produce, through a deal with Jason Blum, producer of the Paranormal Activity series.
Other films backed by Alliance include Steve McQueen’s Shame, starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and The Woman in Black, a supernatural thriller featuring Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.
The new owner of Alliance will take control of an 11,000-title film library and distribution rights to films released by Relativity Media in Canada and the UK, as well as titles from Lions Gate Entertainment, Focus Features and The Weinstein Company and CBS Films in Canada.
The sale of Goldman’s Alliance stake comes as Wall Street is rediscovering its love of Hollywood after a fallow few years. Between 2005 and 2008, about $16bn of institutional capital flowed into the entertainment industry, according to Clear Scope Partners, an entertainment advisory firm.
In 2009, the money dried up but last year several companies, including Miramax, Summit Entertainment and Legendary Pictures, completed significant refinancings.
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