Macrovision Solutions Corp., which acquired Gemstar-TV Guide earlier this year primarily for its interactive program guide technology, has sold the struggling TV Guide print magazine to Beverly Hills investment firm OpenGate Capital. Santa Clara-based Macrovision said in a regulatory filing that OpenGate would assume certain liabilities of the magazine business in exchange for a loan from Macrovision not to exceed $9.5 million, at 3 percent interest, to help fund magazine operations. The magazine lost about $20.3 million in 2007, according to Gemstar's last annual report. Macrovision plans to sell the cable TV Guide Channel separately.
ACQUISITION: Mercury General Corp. said it has agreed to buy three specialty insurance lines of Chicago-based Aon Corp. for $120 million. Los Angeles-based Mercury General, which sells automobile and homeowners insurance, said the deal includes these businesses: Auto Insurance Specialists Inc., a California auto insurance broker; PoliSeek, which provides online and over-the-phone quotes of various types of insurance for comparison purposes; and Aon Recreation Insurance, which sells insurance for recreational vehicles. The deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2009, includes a potential earn out of up to $34.7 million payable over the two years following the sale.
SALES FORECAST: Home prices in California will drop 6 percent next year after falling about 32 percent this year, the California Association of Realtors said in its annual housing forecast, blaming the continued downturn on foreclosed houses jamming the market and problems prospective homebuyers are having in obtaining mortgages during the credit crisis. The median price for detached, single-family homes likely will drop to $358,000 next year from an estimated $381,000 this year. Conversely, the number of homes sold likely will rise 13 percent to 445,000 next year due to lower prices, compared with a likely 12 percent increase this year.
SPIELBERG SIGNS: Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg said their new motion picture company has signed a seven-year worldwide distribution deal with Universal Studios for about six films per year starting in 2009. The DreamWorks SKG principals recently departed Paramount Pictures to partner with Reliance Big Entertainment on the new company. Reliance Big will distribute the new company's projects in India. Universal will take an 8 percent distribution fee for U.S. distribution. DreamWorks still has contractual obligations to complete around 30 pending projects with former Paramount, but Universal could share domestic distribution on some of those films. Spielberg had a two-decade career with Universal as a director until he co-founded DreamWorks with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.
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