Former IM Global Head Stuart Ford Launches AGC Studios

Stuart Ford, founder and former CEO of IM Global, on Wednesday announced the launch of a new international film and TV production and licensing company, AGC Studios.
AGC Studios has initial backing from three partners: Latin American private asset management firm MediaNet Partners; Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Symantec CEO and Fibonacci Films chairman Greg Clark; and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, one of the leading media and entertainment companies in the Arabic-speaking world.
Ford’s new company plans to develop, produce, finance and license feature films, TV as well as digital and musical content.
Former IM Global CFO Miguel Palos will serve as Chief Operating Officer of the new company, which will have headquarters in both London and L.A.
The new studio’s Hollywood output will have a wide-ranging multicultural focus, designed for exploitation across global platforms including major studio partnerships, streaming platforms, traditional broadcast and cable television networks and independent distributors, both in the U.S. and internationally.
Las summer, Ford was forced out of IM Global after a dispute about its direction with Tang Media Partners, which had acquired the company for $200 million.
According to multiple reports, the founder’s exit was acrimonious, stemming from a deep-rooted disagreement over the future plans for the company. Tang acquired “Spotlight” distributor Open Road Films last summer for an undisclosed price, a move Ford was said to have opposed.
Under Ford’s leadership, IM Global had some notable success on the film front, including the critically acclaimed Mel Gibson war drama “Hacksaw Ridge.”

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Disney to acquire most of 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion 
In a massive deal that could change the entertainment industry even more than AT&T-Time Warner, Disney announced plans to acquire Fox’s film and TV studios and much of its non-broadcast television business, including regional sports networks and cable networks such as FX, FXX and Nat Geo. Disney would also pick up Fox’s stake in the European pay-TV giant Sky — and be better positioned to win regulatory approval to complete the acquisition of the 61 percent of the company it does not already own.

Discovery Communications agrees to buy Scripps Networks Interactive for $11.9 billion 
The merger of two cable powerhouses brings together channels including Discovery, Science, Food Network and HGTV – and could give the combined company a stronger position as pay-TV continues to migrate to the internet.

Sinclair Broadcast Group agrees to buy Tribune Media for $3.8 billion 
This deal, if approved, would give conservative-leaning Sinclair control of 223 stations in 108 markets, including 39 of the top 50, covering 72 percent of households in the country. And it’s only possible under rule changes implemented by new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Cineworld offers to buy Regal Cinemas for more than $3 billion 
After a string of movie theater mergers last year, the sector has quieted down — along with the box office. And while this isn’t yet a done deal — or even an accepted offer —  British chain Cineworld made a late November bid of $23 a share for the U.S.’s No. 2 cinema chain.

Meredith Corp. acquires Time Inc. for $2.8 billion 
The magazine megadeal is a sign of changing times in the publishing industry, with the owner of esteemed brands like Time, Fortune and Sports Illustrated selling to the parent of Better Homes and Gardens and Country Life – backed by $650 million from big-time conservative donors the Koch brothers.

Verizon acquires Straight Path Communications for $2.3 billion 
Straight Path may not be a household name, but it was the subject of a bidding war between AT&T and Verizon. The company is one of the largest owners of millimeter wave spectrum, seen as key to the buildout of 5G networks, which should power much faster mobile internet — better for video — in the near future.
Verizon/Straight Path

Disney buys the rest of BAMTech for $1.6 billion 
The Mouse House jumped into internet TV in a major way in 2017, announcing upcoming Disney and ESPN-branded streaming services and acquiring the rest of streaming tech company BAMTech to power those products.

Entercom buys CBS Radio for $1.5 billion   
CBS Radio was intended to be spun off from its broadcast parent in an IPO, but instead it was scooped up by a competitor. The combined company, now the second largest radio business in the country, owns and operates 244 stations in 47 markets.
Entercom/CBS Radio

MGM buys the rest of Epix for $1 billion 
The independent studio went all in on the pay-TV business, buying the rest of the premium cable network from Viacom and Lionsgate. And that’s paid immediate dividends, as MGM’s media networks division propelled it to a strong third quarter.

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Rewind 2017: Media and content consolidation continued this year

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