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Viacom Confirms Sale of Film Library to Soros

March 18, 2006|Claudia Eller | Times Staff Writer

As expected, Viacom Inc. announced a deal Friday to sell the film library of the recently acquired DreamWorks SKG studio for $900 million to an investment group led by billionaire George Soros.

Under the terms of the deal, Soros Strategic Partners and Dune Entertainment II, an affiliate of Dune Capital Management, will acquire 59 live-action titles released through Sept. 15, 2005, by the studio founded by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

As part of the agreement, Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures will have the exclusive right to distribute the library, which includes such Oscar-winning films as "Gladiator" and "American Beauty," for what sources said was an 8% fee. Viacom will retain ownership of music publishing and other ancillary and derivative rights, including sequel and merchandising rights.

Additionally, Viacom will retain a minority stake in the library assets and will have the right to buy back the library at the end of the fifth year after the deal closes.

Under certain conditions, the parties also will have the right to acquire the other's library interest. If Soros continues to hold on to the library after the fifth year, Paramount's distribution agreement will automatically renew.

Selling the library helps defray the $1.6 billion in cash and assumed debt that Paramount agreed to pay for the live-action production operation of DreamWorks in December.

Viacom said Friday that after the conversion of certain commercial agreements from debt to advances, it expected its net purchase price for DreamWorks to be about $600 million.

Viacom's stock rose 69 cents to $39.

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