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Sloan and Sagansky: The men who helped Videocon d2h to list on Nasdaq

MUMBAI: Videocon d2h, the direct-to-home (DTH) arm of Videocon Group, has a rich pedigree of backers in the US where it raised $325 million.

Silver Eagle Acquisition Corp (SEAC), which helped Videocon d2h to list on Nasdaq, was co-founded by veteran Hollywood executives Harry Sloan and Jeffrey (Jeff) Sagansky. Both Sloan and Sagansky have had illustrious careers in media and entertainment industry, where they have spent considerable years. They have also had experience of the Indian market, when Sloan was earlier chairman and CEO of MGM and Sagansky when he was co-president of Sony Pictures.

On 31 December 2014, Videocon d2h had signed an agreement with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that enabled it to become the first and only Indian DTH player to list on the Nasdaq Stock Market in the US.

The SPAC in question was SEAC, a company formed in April 2013 to acquire domestic or international media/entertainment businesses with high growth potential.

Incidentally, SEAC’s initial public offering (IPO) itself generated more than $325 million, the largest public float investment raised by any US SPAC in more than seven years.

Out of that, SEAC contributed $273.3 million to Videocon d2h in exchange for 38.4 per cent stake in Videocon d2h, represented by 37.75 million American Depositary Shares (ADS) distributed to SEAC’s stockholders. Both Sloan and Sagnsky are now on the board of Videocon d2h too.

TVP traces the journey of the two men who started SEAC.

Harry Sloan

A successful international media investor, Sloan was chairman and CEO of MGM prior to wearing the investor hat. He was also the founder of SBS Broadcasting.

Harry-SloanSEAC is the second SPAC sponsored by Sloan and his business partner Sagansky. Their first venture, Global Eagle Acquisition Corp, was formed in February 2011 and raised over $190 million of equity to invest in the in-flight entertainment industry.

During his four-year tenure at MGM, Sloan led the debt-ridden studio to revive the ‘James Bond’, ‘Rocky’ and ‘Pink Panther’ franchises, and created a partnership with Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema to produce three Hobbit movies.

Sloan also rebuilt MGM’s theatrical, television distribution and marketing units. He launched numerous MGM basic television channels in the US and internationally, including MGM UK, India, Italy, Poland, and Eastern Europe. He also led the MGM effort to launch the Viacom–Lionsgate joint venture, US pay TV channel EPIX IN 2009.

Under his four-year stint, MGM generated approximately $500 million per year of library cash flow and was able to service the $3.7 billion of acquisition debt without tapping into its corporate revolver. Sloan stepped down from his position as CEO in August 2009 and, remaining as chairman, recruited a new team to restructure the debt on behalf of MGM’s lenders.

In December of 2010, MGM confirmed its plan of reorganisation creating a new and financially healthy MGM. Sloan officially left the studio in 2011 to launch Global Eagle Acquisition with Sagansky.

As per his website bio, one of his biggest career achievements was founding of SBS Broadcasting in 1990 with a personal investment of $5 million. Over the next decade, he was able to build SBS into the second-largest broadcaster in Europe, with 16 television stations, 21 premium pay channels, and 11 radio networks, reaching 100 million people in nine countries. He led the company’s initial public offering (IPO) in 1993 and sold SBS for $2.6 billion in October 2005 to Permira and KKR.

In 2007, SBS consolidated its operations into Prosieben Sat.1 Media AG, Germany’s largest television broadcasting group, creating a European media powerhouse. Sloan served on the Prosieben Sat.1 board of directors until 2009.

Sloan was also one of the founding shareholders of Lionsgate Films in 1999 and served as chairman of Lionsgate’s board from 2004 to 2005.

Prior to founding SBS, Sloan served as chairman of New World Entertainment Ltd, which he purchased for $2 million in 1983. Over the next three years, Sloan expanded the independent movie production company into television production and distribution as New World became the third-largest producer of US primetime television.

He led New World’s IPO in 1985, acquired Marvel Entertainment Group in 1986, and sold the business in 1989 to Ronald Perelman for $270 million.

From 1976 to 1983, Sloan was a practising entertainment lawyer with Sloan, Kuppin and Ament, a law firm he founded in Los Angeles. Sloan received his B.A. from UCLA in 1973 and J.D. from Loyola Law School in 1976.

Throughout his career, Sloan has served as a member of the board for a number of entertainment companies. In January 2011, Sloan was appointed on the board of Promotora de Informaciones, S.A. or PRISA, Spain’s largest media conglomerate, after its 2010 business combination with Liberty Acquisition Corp.

He is also a director of ZeniMax Media Inc, a producer of interactive gaming and web content, since 1999, as well as a board member on Prosieben and Lionsgate.

Jeff Sagansky

Sagansky has been a long-time investor and executive in the media and entertainment businesses. He also serves as chairman of Hemisphere Film Capital, a film and TV finance company behind films like ‘The Smurfs’, ‘The Adventures of Tin Tin’, ‘Men in Black 3’ and ‘World War Z’.

jeff-saganskyHe is also the co-founder of Global Eagle Acquisition Corp along with Sloan, which completed the three-way merger with Row 44 and AIA to create the largest in-flight entertainment company.

Sagansky is also the co-founder of Electric Farm Entertainment, the digital production company behind ‘Valemont’, ‘Afterworld’, and ‘Gemini Division’ apart from being the lead investor in other companies including Content Media Corporation, the UK-based distribution company, Trifecta, the syndication and media sales company, and Stargreetz, the web-based personalised messaging company, and Sprylogics, the chat-based mobile search company.

He started his career in the finance department of CBS and five years later, was made EVP and the head of series programming at NBC. Among the series he developed at NBC were ‘The Cosby Show’, ‘Miami Vice’, ‘Cheers’ and ‘St. Elsewhere’.

Sagansky left NBC in1985 to join the start-up TriStar Pictures where he began as head of production and ended as its CEO, developing films like ‘Look Who’s Talking’, ‘Steel Magnolias’, and ‘Glory’.

In l990, Sagansky moved back to the world of TV to assume the post of president of CBS Entertainment. There Sagansky returned the network to the top of the ratings, developing hits like ‘Touched by An Angel’, ‘The Nanny’ and ‘Northern Exposure’.

In l994, Sagansky joined Sony Corporation as EVP of entertainment. There he oversaw the American launch of the Sony Playstation (as its interim CEO) as well as the purchase of Telemundo and the Loew’s Cineplex merger.

In l995, he was named co-president of Sony Pictures where he was in charge of worldwide television operations. In l998, Sagansky became president and CEO of Paxson Communications. During his four years at Paxson, the network distribution grew from 60 per cent of US households to 90 per cent.

With a BA from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School, he also serves on the boards of Scripps Networks Interactive, Starz Entertainment, Global Eagle Entertainment and GoEuro.