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BET Founder Adds Acorn Media to Image Acquisition

2 Apr, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Combined purchase price tops $127 million in cash

As expected, Bob Johnson, founder of BET (Black Entertainment Television), April 2 confirmed that his company, RLJ Acquisitions, has entered into agreements to acquire independent home entertainment distributors Image Entertainment and Acorn Media Group.

Washington, D.C.-based Acorn is a distributor of primarily British TV content, including Agatha Christie titles.

Chatsworth, Calif.-based Image was acquired for $22.6 million in cash and in the form of promissory notes, while Acorn Media was acquired for $105 million in cash, 1 million in common shares of RLJ Entertainment and warrants to purchase 1 million additional shares of RLJ stock, according to a release.

Following completion of the mergers — which is expected to close by the second quarter — Image and Acorn shareholders will own 11% and 5%, respectively, of RLJ Entertainment.

The new publicly traded company will be called RLJ Entertainment Inc., with Johnson serving as executive chairman. Current Image CEO Ted Green will remain head of the new company, with Acorn Media founder Peter Edwards serving as vice chairman. It wasn't immediately clear what position Miguel Penella, CEO of Acorn Media, will have in the new company.

Acorn also distributes health and wellness programming through its Acacia label, and documentaries via the Athena label. Acorn Media U.K. and Acorn Media Australia distribute comparable lines of DVD titles to consumers in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.

“RLJ Entertainment will have a broad strategy for financial growth by providing content to all media platforms including broadcast and cable, DVD and Blu-ray Disc, digital downloads and digital streaming,” Johnson said in a statement.

Green was named CEO of Image following its $22 million (including $15 million in cash) acquisition in 2010 by San Francisco-based investment group JH Holdings Inc.


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