Canada’s Thunderbird Entertainment engages ACF to explore ‘all options’ as sale process looms

Heavy Rescue 401

Heavy Rescue: 401 producer Thunderbird Entertainment Group has brought in ACF Investment Bank to explore “all options for growth” following its recent peace deal with shareholder Voss Capital, with “inbound expressions of interest” in the company being explored.

Thunderbird had been at loggerheads with Voss last year, when the US investment firm started pushing for a sale and raised concerns over what it termed as the production company’s “destructive strategic direction”.

The Houston-based fund, which initially took a 10.5% stake in the firm in 2021 before increasing its holding to 13%, hit out at Thunderbird’s decision “to myopically pursue a failed acquisition strategy focused on buying up smaller studios, rather than recognising the current M&A landscape… and the large potential value of Thunderbird in that landscape.”

Highway Thru Hell

Thunderbird also publically hit out at what it said were “false and misleading claims” that Voss had the support of fellow investor Frank Giustra, but a ‘cooperation agreement’ was struck in January between the two companies that allowed the investment firm to add new members to the board.

‘Growth trajectory’

As part of that agreement, Thunderbird said it would form an advisory committee to assess spending and explore “all opportunities to maximise value creation”.

Now, ACF has been drafted in to evaluate options in a move that Thunderbird said “maintains alignment with the cooperation agreement, while providing the company with an important next step in support of its growth trajectory.”

Thunderbird houses Highway Thru Hell prodco Great Pacific Media and kids arm Atomic Cartoons, and is behind shows such as The Last Kids On Earth and Kim’s Convenience. It has around 30 series in production for companies including Netflix, Disney and the CBC.

Jennifer Twiner McCarron, CEO and chair of Thunderbird’s board, said: “Our mission at Thunderbird is to become the next major global studio and working with ACF allows us to strategically review all options for growth and evaluate any inbound expressions of interest received by the company.”

TBI understands that there have been no reported expressions of interest to date.

Richard Gray, MD at ACF, added that Canada’s “benevolent environment, creative content and production values are strategically attractive for expanding TV production groups.”

He continued: “The company’s growth has put it in an incredibly strong market position and we look forward to working with Jennifer and the team to assist with the next phase of the company’s growth.”

The battle over the future of Thunderbird follows a turbulent two years for the Canuck firm, which also has offices in LA and recently hired a former Netflix exec to lead its US scripted hub.

Twiner McCarron was promoted to her current position in late 2020 after Mark Miller stepped down as president. Matthew Berkowitz was then upped to Miller’s role, as well as CCO, while Sarah Nathanson was promoted to COO and corporate secretary, with co-founder, Cameron White, exiting the company.

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