Decode is gearing up for its10th anniversary next April in a very public fashion. The Toronto, Canada prodco has joined forces with fellow Canuck house Halifax Film Company, the makers of Poko and the Alliance Atlantis-distributed Lunar Jim, to create a holding company to be valued on both London’s AIM stock market and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).
Trading of DHX Media shares began in late May and Neil Court, partner at Decode, says the new company will create a pool of funds large enough to float both HFC and Decode growth. He adds the current environment for growing privately run businesses doesn’t leave a lot of cash to expand into new ventures. ‘You can have a great privately run, organic business, but if you don’t have capital, you’re kind of stuck,’ he says.
The Decode team started shopping for capital about a year ago and hired London’s KPMG to investigate opportunities on the company’s behalf. In the end, Halifax Film Company stepped into the gap. HFC heads, Michael Donovan and Charles Bishop, have previous experience operating within public companies after having sold Salter Street Films to Toronto, Canada’s Alliance Atlantis in 2001.
Donovan, CEO at Halifax Film Group, will head up the day to day work required to raise the capital via DHX, while Decode’s Court and fellow partner Steve DeNure will concentrate on production and brand expansion to make the venture appealing to investors.
One new proposed avenue is a push into consumer products. Now that Franny’s Feet is set to appear on PBS as of July, and Decode has added most of HFC’s preschool slate to its international distribution catalogue, M&L seems like it would be a natural extension of the company’s brand. It’s early days, but Court says DHX will either look to buy a company in that sector or build the division internally with some of its newfound capital. But he warns the company isn’t going to make the mistake that some public companies have made in the past and start buying willy-nilly. Rather, each deal will be considered as an augmentation of the organic base Decode has already established.
Another change is the departure of one of Decode’s founders, John Delmage. He’s returning to work on the creative side and has signed a two-year first-look deal with Decode for his new properties.