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Ron Howard and Brian Grazers Imagine Entertainment in Talks to Sell Majority Stake to Investment Firm Centricus




Imagine Entertainment, the film and television production company co-founded by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, is in talks to sell a majority stake to Centricus, a London-based investment firm, according to people familiar with the matter.

The talks with Centricus value Imagine, known for hits such as Cinderella Man, Apollo 13 and Inside Man, at between $600 million and $800 million, the sources said. Centricus is in talks to buy more than 70% of the company, the sources said.

Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti, right, in a scene from Cinderella Man, one of the Imagines films.


Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

MM. Howard and Grazer will remain shareholders, and Imagine executives will continue to lead the studios’ creative output, some people said. Investment bank Raine Group will also continue to hold shares, some people said.

Talks with Centricus may not lead to an agreement. Other suitors have also shown interest in Imagine, some people said.

A wave of deals has swept through Hollywood in recent months as companies take advantage of demand for movies and TV shows from emerging streaming services. One of the first steps was an agreement with Candle Medias in August to acquire Hello Sunshine, the media company founded by Reese Witherspoon, for approximately $900 million.

Reshaping the media landscape

Since then, several companies have sold outright or recruited new investors, including Westbrook Inc., the media company co-founded by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, AGBO, the media company co-founded by the directors of Avengers: Endgame Joe and Anthony Russo. and SpringHill Co., the media company co-founded by NBA star LeBron James.

Candle Media agreed earlier this year to buy Moonbug Entertainment, creator of children’s show CoComelon, for more than $2.75 billion.

Founded in 1985, Imagine Entertainment has produced award-winning movies and TV shows that span genres such as drama, comedy, and documentaries. Imagines projects have won Oscars, Golden Globes and dozens of Emmy Awards, according to company website. Imagine also invested in Jigsaw Productions, the media company founded by filmmaker Alex Gibney, and Jax Media, the film and television producer co-founded by Tony Hernandez and Lilly Burns.

An acquirer could continue to license the Imagine library of movies and shows to distributors to generate cash. Some content produced by Imagine is already licensed to distributors, including Netflix Inc.,

Apple Inc.

and the Walt Disney Co.

, which could affect the value of the business to an acquirer. However, Imagine has co-financed more of his projects in recent years and co-owns some of his productions, including the documentary Lucy & Desi.

The company generates more than $30 million in cash a year, some of which comes from profit sharing from its movies and TV shows, people familiar with its finances said. The company’s annual turnover could not be learned.

Recent Imagine fare includes Tick, Tick Boom!, a film adaptation of Rent creator Jonathan Larsons’ autobiographical musical that was directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Founded in 2016, London-based Centricus is a relatively low-key investment and advisory firm that is run by former Deutsche Bank executives.

With $40 billion in assets under management, it examines investments in sectors such as consumer, media, entertainment and sports.

Last year he held talks with UEFA, European football’s governing body, over funding worth 6 billion euros, or $6.9 billion, and in 2020, the company has made a long-term bid for TikTok, the popular video-sharing app.

Centricus also helped found the Vision Fund, a $100 billion investment vehicle launched by SoftBank Group Corp.

Centricus partnered with SoftBank in 2018 for its $25 billion bid to launch new tournaments for soccer’s international governing body FIFA and create a streaming and entertainment platform for it. this.

Write to Benjamin Mullin at [email protected] and Julie Steinberg at [email protected]

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