Cinar has inked an agreement to purchase all outstanding shares of Israel-based multimedia publisher Edusoft. Known primarily for its flagship English Discoveries learning series, Edusoft produces CD-ROM titles under English Learning, Early Learning, Science and Technology lines in 20 languages for consumer and in-school use. The eight-year-old company based in Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel, distributes products to the U.S., Latin America, Europe and East Asia, and reported net profits of just over US$3 million in fiscal 1997 based on revenues of US$13.6 million.
The acquisition’s total cash sales price is approximately US$40.2 million, with shareholders receiving just over US$8.33 per share after investment banking fee deductions. The deal has been approved in principle by the board of Degem Systems, which holds about 60% of Edusoft shares. Cinar Educational’s expanding operations now include Edusoft along with two U.S.-based companies, Carson-Dellosa Publishing and HighReach Learning.
* The U.S.-based Odyssey Channel, due to be overhauled shortly under new partners Hallmark Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company, has recently received good news and bad news. On the up side, second-largest U.S. cable system TeleCommunications has signed a multiyear renewal deal increasing the channel’s subscriber base from six to eight million. On the down side, Time Warner Cable dropped the channel from its basic tier to launch New York event listings channel MSG Metro Guide, costing Odyssey about 1.1 million subscribers.
* Children’s Television Workshop has started pre-pro on an original Egyptian Sesame Street co-production with Cairo-based Karma Productions. Mainly funded by a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Sesame Street’s Egyptian incarnation will be produced by a local crew, and is slated to debut for Ramadan in December.
* Disney has consolidated all Disney Studios operations under chairman Joe Roth, with the promotion of Peter Schneider to president of The Walt Disney Studios. Formerly president of Walt Disney Feature Animation and Walt Disney Theatrical Productions, Schneider will now work with Roth to oversee the creative development, production, marketing and distribution of all Disney entertainment products. Schneider’s position was filled in turn by former executive VP Thomas Schumacher.
In other Disney news, the company recently recalled 3.4 million copies of The Rescuers video after discovering that two of the animated feature’s 110,000 frames contained ‘objectionable’ background images. Disney would not comment on the nature of the images, but they are reported to be photographs of a nude woman inserted during original production in the mid-1970s. The decision marks Disney’s first-ever video recall, and prompted the company to initiate a new policy of inspecting every frame of video masters before future releases.