01/03/2012 03:35 EST

Goldman To Sell Alliance Atlantis Stake


Goldman Sachs plans to put its majority control of Canadian movie distributor Alliance Atlantis on the auction block, reports suggested Tuesday.

London's Financial Times newspaper reports the New York investment bank is seeking to sell its 66 per cent ownership interest in Alliance. The remainder is owned by Investissement Québec, the investment arm of the Quebec government.

The Bank of Montreal has been retained to advise Goldman on the sale, the report said. Officials at Goldman Sachs and Alliance Atlantis declined to comment.

Goldman is not typically a name associated with blockbuster movies, but the Wall Street titan got its controlling interest in Alliance as part of a complicated deal in 2007 with Canwest Global Communications, whereby Goldman put up money to fund an aggressive consolidation of broadcast assets by the founding Asper family.

Crushed in part by the debt accrued in that campaign, Canwest has since ceased to exist, with the chain's newspaper holdings becoming the Postmedia chain, and Alliance's broadcast channels sold to Shaw communications last year.

But Goldman emerged with arguably the jewel of the lot in Alliance, because it retained the filmmaking division and the syndication rights to several popular television shows.

Alliance Films made last year's Best Picture Oscar winner, The King's Speech, and bankrolled the current movie Shame, starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. Alliance Films owns a catalog of more than 11,000 movies.

As part of their original Alliance stake, Goldman maintains a 50 per cent interest in the rights to the CSI franchise, which has so far spawned three network television series and countless marketing and promotional tie-ins.

The FT report says the CSI rights will not be included in any Alliance sale, so Goldman will retain its stake in what's proven to be a very lucrative cash-cow for more than a decade.