lionsgate_logoBut my question is this: Will billionaire Haim Saban now help partner Lionsgate fend off Carl Icahn? Anyway, Saban gets offered a ton of deals, and does very few, so this must be something special. Lionsgate and private equity firm Saban Capital Group today announced they’ve formed an equal joint venture to operate and manage Tiger Gate, an operator of pay television channels and a distributor of television programming and action and horror films across Asia. haim sabanThe equal partnership will grow branded Asian thriller and horror and action channels. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Established by Lionsgate in partnership with William Pfeiffer and Paul Presburger in 2008, Tiger Gate currently operates the thriller/horror channel THRILL and the action channel KIX. The channels, which launched in Indonesia in August 2009, will launch in Hong Kong and Singapore on April 28th. “Going forward, the Lionsgate/Saban joint venture will focus on expanding and strengthening Tiger Gate’s presence in Asia, as the two channels continue to rollout to other major markets in Asia.  In addition to Indonesia, Hong Kong and Singapore, Tiger Gate also plans to expand their offerings to Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei in the coming year. Plans for China, India, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and the Middle East are also being discussed for the near future.  The partners intend to leverage Tiger Gate as a platform to expand throughout Asia by launching additional channels and acquiring existing media assets in the region,” according to today’s statement.

“We welcome Saban Capital Group as a partner and look forward to the talent and expertise their team will provide as we expand Tiger Gate into the world’s largest and fastest-growing market. They have an accomplished track record of success in the entertainment space,” said Lionsgate Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer.  “We are doing what we do best — focusing on large niches that play to our strengths.  We are very excited to bring the Lionsgate brand to Asia.”

“We are thrilled to join Lionsgate in this attractive investment that will allow SCG to expand our global footprint and capitalize on high growth opportunities in the Asian market,” said Saban Capital Group President and Chief Operating Officer Adam Chesnoff.  “Lionsgate’s vast portfolio of branded content, strong marketing skills and experienced leadership make them an ideal partner for this venture.  Due to William Pfeiffer and Paul Presburger’s strong leadership, Tiger Gate is off to a strong start, and we are confident that, with the addition of Lionsgate’s content and marketing and our operational experience and financial strength, this venture will achieve sustainable, long-term success.”

”We are delighted that Saban Capital Group recognized our potential and has joined us in this exciting new venture,” said Pfeiffer.  “The power of the Lionsgate library, brand and content leadership and the track record of our joint venture partner give us confidence that we can realize our vision of quickly becoming one of the premier television channel operators and content distributors in the region.  Our branded channels, and the marketing and programming expertise that support them, will distinguish themselves in the marketplace as a rich and diverse source of entertainment excitement across multiple platforms of distribution.”

The venture will continue to be run by Tiger Gate Chief Executive Officer William Pfeiffer and Lionsgate International executive Paul Presburger.  Pfeiffer, a 23-year international media veteran, headed Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Asian operations for nearly 10 years, bringing the media conglomerate into China, India and other Asian markets before founding and launching Celestial Pictures, a Hong Kong-based operator of Asian motion picture and television distribution, branded entertainment channels, television content and new media.  Pfeiffer ran Celestial Pictures for seven years before leaving to launch the Tiger Gate venture.  He also helped launch Sony Entertainment Television in India as well as AXN, Animax, Celestial Movies and numerous other channels in Asia.

“Backed by the resources of Lionsgate’s vast, 12,000-title motion picture and television library, the venture will distribute the two branded channels across Asia as well as distributing a mix of Lionsgate films, locally produced content and third-party acquisitions across Asia.  In addition, Tiger Gate will produce local feature film and television content designed to feed its channels,” the statement said.

The THRILL Channel showcases high-end local Asian horror films and thrillers and hit television series and also will leverage Lionsgate’s vast stockpile of horror/thriller content as well as other Hollywood studio hits.  The KIX Channel features a mix of Asian blockbuster motion pictures, hit television series, cutting edge reality series, action game shows, anime, extreme sports, mixed martial arts events and classic martial arts masterpieces, bringing together a broad spectrum of Asian content as well as some international content with an Asian influence.