AMC Networks Offers $16M For Full Control Of Acorn TV Owner RLJ Entertainment

By Peter White, Dade Hayes

Acorn TV

A little more than a year after offering a loan that stabilized RLJ Entertainment, AMC Networks is making a $16 million offer for full control of the company behind streaming service Acorn TV and the Urban Movie Channel.

The cable programmer, which owns AMC as well as channels including SundanceTV and IFC and SVOD service Shudder, already owns 26% of RLJ, and founder Robert L. Johnson has 47%. Its latest proposal is to pay $4.25 a share to acquire the 27% of RLJ shares owned by others.

AMC, which cautioned that the bid may not necessarily come to fruition, said the offer represents a 10% premium on the closing price Friday and puts its market capitalization at $60 million. Since it extended the loan in October 2016, the company noted, RLJ shares have risen 126%.

The company said an “independent committee” formed by RLJ would be best suited to evaluate the proposal.

RLJ Entertainment was founded in 2012 by Johnson, the media mogul known for founding BET. The company’s film arm recently acquired the U.S. rights to Margot Robbie’s Terminal. Through Acorn Media Enterprises, its UK development arm, RLJE co-produces and develops new programs and owns 64% of Agatha Christie Limited.

An RLJ-AMC combination makes sense for both parties. AMC, like all TV programmers, is moving quickly to diversify its holdings as once-reliable revenue streams such as affiliate sales and advertising have been affected by the evolution of the traditional bundle. In addition to Shudder, AMC has also launched subscription service Sundance Now and AMC Premiere, a commercial-free subscription version of its namesake network available to Comcast Xfinity subscribers.

With Acorn’s British focus, there is also a match to be made with BBC America, which AMC Networks also controls.

Citigroup Global Markets Inc. is acting as financial advisor and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is acting as legal counsel to AMC Networks in connection with the transaction.

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