Ymagis Group has announced that its offer to take over the businesses and certain assets of Eclair Group was accepted today by the Nanterre Commercial Court as part of the company's rehabilitation proceedings, which began June 12.
"We are very pleased that Eclair Group, whose name is firmly imprinted in the cinema history, has joined our team. This transaction will create an alliance between tradition and modernity and is part of our strategy to develop our business portfolio. Eclair will help Ymagis Group offer new services to content providers, with promising opportunities for further international expansion", said Jean Mizrahi, chairman and chief executive officer of Ymagis. "We will put our expertise, technical knowledge, business skills and international network to work in rejuvenating the century-old company, whose name is respected worldwide. The goal is to help Eclair recover its past glory."
Eclair was founded in 1907 by industrialist Charles Jourjon, who joined the tradition of the great pioneers of French cinema such as Léon Gaumont and Charles Pathé. The Éclair Group has a very long history as a trustworthy partner for the film industry. Its name is recognized worldwide for the quality of its services, as well as several innovations that have marked the motion picture industry, especially the invention of different type of cameras.
Over the last few years, Eclair Group has been severely hit by the sharp decline in its photochemical activities due to the transition of the whole industry from film print to digital. The group significantly reduced its revenue and workforce, which considerably affected its financial position. After several years of restructuring, the Group has refocused on future-oriented activities grounded in four major areas: localization businesses (subtitling, dubbing, etc.), content distribution services, film and video restoration, and post-production. Eclair Group's consolidated financial statements show that in 2014 it generated €37.7m in revenue, almost entirely from the French market, and negative operating income of €3.5m.
Under the terms of the offer, Ymagis will purchase Eclair Group's operating activities, its holdings in several subsidiaries in France, Germany and Morocco, tangible assets including property and some intangible assets. Ymagis will not take over any liabilities incurred by Eclair Group before the judgment deciding about the cession plan.
To manage the businesses acquired, Ymagis will create two new subsidiaries that will be wholly-owned by Ymagis SA: Eclair Media SAS taking over the content distribution and localization services, and Eclair Cinéma SAS being responsible for post-production and restoration.
These businesses will complement Ymagis Group's existing Content Services division in terms of digital content delivery to movie theatres, opening the group up to new developments in video businesses (services for TV channels, VOD platforms, etc.). Ymagis' goal is to develop these activities internationally once Eclair's restructuring has been completed.
Of the 320 people currently employed by Eclair Group, 233 will join the new structures Eclair Media SAS and Eclair Cinéma SAS as well as the subsidiaries taken over. A team of specialists dedicated to managing these activities will be recruited and will report to Ymagis' management committee.
Ymagis will pay €670k to acquire these assets, including inventory. Furthermore, Ymagis will contribute €217k to the redundancy programme for employees not kept on, and will assume responsibility for €337k in fees owed to specific suppliers in order to ensure the businesses can continue operating. The total amount of approximately €1.2m will be fully financed by the company's own equity. The Group is now in talks with its financial partners to optimise the financing of its operational cash flow.
The takeover is effective August 1. The Eclair Group's earnings will be consolidated starting from that date.