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Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment Could Sell Majority Stake to Investment Firm Centricus

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Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are in talks to sell a majority stake in their film and television production company, Imagine Entertainment, to investment firm Centricus Asset Management Ltd. The London-based company can pay between $600 million and $800 million for a minimum of 70 percent of the company’s capital, the the wall street journal reports. Negotiations between the company and the firm are accelerating, but it is not yet certain that an agreement between them will definitively succeed.

Imagine Entertainment, which is one of Hollywood’s largest independent content producers, is currently valued at over $800 million. But he has consistently sought a capital injection through a stock sale in recent months.

Centricus, which manages $35 billion in assets, is known for its investments in financial services, technology, infrastructure, media and sports ventures. The firm was co-founded in 2016 by Nizar Al-Bassam and Dalinc Ariburnu.

The news that Centricus could buy the majority stake in Imagine Entertainment comes after investors and potential buyers initially showed interest in the company, which was founded by Howard and Grazer in 1985, last summer. The interested investor at the time included an anonymous Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund, international banks and a domestic private equity firm.

Imagine Entertainment’s assets include New York-based independent production shingle, Jax Media, which is known for producing popular television shows such as Emily in Paris, Russian doll, Younger and vast city. Imagine Entertainment also owns a majority stake in Alex Gibney’s documentary division, Jigsaw Productions, which has produced titles such as NatGeo’s rebuild paradise, which was directed by Howard, Sony Pictures Classics’ Julia and that of Apple Who are you Charlie Brown?

Other titles from Imagine Entertainment’s library include Howard films such as Backdraft and Apollo 13, as well as television series such as 24, Development stopped, Friday night lightsandEmpire. The two-time Oscar-winning filmmaker is also set to direct his first animated feature, The Shrinking Treehorn, for Paramount. There’s also a show based on the director’s 1988 dark fantasy drama, willow, in development at Disney+.

The production company is also known for its creative incubator lab, Imagine Impact. The lab helps speed up the script development process by removing bias in the submission process.

If an agreement between Imagine Entertainment and Centricus is reached, Howard and Grazer will remain shareholders in the production company and Imagine executives will continue to provide creative output. Investment bank Raine Group, which currently owns 51% of Imagine and has invested $100 million in the company since 2016, will also continue to hold shares in the company if a deal with Centricus is reached.

Grazer and Howard have been producing partners for nearly 40 years. The couple have long maintained their independence at Imagine Entertainment, even when partnering with major studios for film and television projects.

Check out more from Karen Benardellos.

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