Los Angeles Business Journal

BET Founder to Buy Image Entertainment

By Jonathan Polakoff Monday, April 2, 2012

Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson on Monday announced plans to acquire Chatsworth film distribution company Image Entertainment Inc.

Johnson’s special purpose acquisition company RLJ Acquisitions Inc. also announced plans to acquire film distributor Acorn Media Group of Silver Spring, Md.

The entities will operate jointly as RLJ Entertainment Inc., which is expected to be listed on the Nasdaq. Johnson’s blank check company is based in Bethesda, Md.

Holders of Image Entertainment common stock will receive 2.1 million shares of RLJ Entertainment common stock. Holders of Image preferred stock will receive $22.6 million in cash and notes. Current Image shareholders will own about 11 percent of the combined unit. San Francisco private equity firm JH Partners Co. bought a controlling interest in Image in 2009.

When the deal concludes, it will combine two major home entertainment movie libraries, Acorn and Image. Image has exclusive rights to about 3,700 DVD titles, including those in the Criterion Collection, as well as digital download rights for about 2,200 video programs. Acorn Media has rights to many British television programs and movies.

“I believe combining Acorn Media Group with Image Entertainment under the RLJ Entertainment brand and with Bob Johnson as executive chairman provides us with a more robust content library and a larger platform for continued growth,” Ted Green, chief executive officer of Image Entertainment, said in a statement. Green will serve as chief executive of the new venture.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the quarter.