Haim Saban becomes Lions Gate's partner in studio's Asian pay-TV channels
Lions Gate Entertainment has clinched a deal with media tycoon Haim Saban’s private investment firm Saban Capital Group to become an equal partner in Tiger Gate, the Santa Monica studio’s recently launched pay-TV venture in Asia, according to people familiar with the arrangement.
The people estimated that Saban Capital, which owns stakes in Spanish-language media company Univision and Israel’s telecommunications provider Bezeq, will initially match Lions Gate’s Tiger Gate investment to date of several million dollars, with more funding expected in the future. Saban’s infusion will enable the partners to expand Tiger Gate’s presence across Asia with additional channels and the acquisition of existing media assets in the region, the person said.
Based in Hong Kong, Tiger Gate currently operates the thriller-horror channel Thrill and action comedy channel Kix, both of which will launch in Hong Kong and Singapore on April 28. Tiger Gate plans to expand to Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei in the coming year.
Plans are also under discussion for moves into China, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the Middle East.
Tiger Gate will continue to be run by Tiger Gate Chief Executive William Pfeiffer and Lions Gate’s international executive Paul Presburger. The venture will continue to distribute a mix of Lions Gate films, locally produced content and third-party acquisitions including Hollywood and Asian movies.
Saban is the latest financial partner to join Lions Gate in its growing cable channel business. The studio, headed by CEO Jon Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns, is partnered with JPMorgan Chase’s One Equity Partners in TV Guide Network and TV Guide.com; with Viacom and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in pay-TV start-up Epix; and with Comcast and Sony in the horror channel Fearnet.
-- Claudia Eller
Photo of Haim Saban by Dennis Brack / Bloomberg News