(L) AMC CEO Josh Sapan, RLJ CEO Robert Johnson

*AMC Networks has said it will exercise an option to buy 100 percent of Robert Johnson’s RLJ Entertainment, with an eye to taking the company private, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The channel of “The Walking Dead” and former series “Mad Men” is exercising an option to purchase the outstanding shares of RLJ Entertainment that it does not already own after in Nov. 2016 making a $65 million investment in the form of loans via its unit Digital Entertainment Holdings for a minority 26 percent stake, with an option to purchase outright control.

AMC, led by CEO Josh Sapan, proposed paying $4.25 per share in cash for the premium digital channel company that will now become a subsidiary of AMC, if the deal goes through.

RLJ’s businesses include branded OTT channels Acorn TV, focused on British TV, and UMC, the Urban Movie Channel. RLJ also owns a 64 percent stake in Agatha Christie Ltd., which manages the intellectual property and publishing rights to the creations of the writer behind such characters as Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.

RLJ also has the North American rights for such movies as Pierce Brosnan’s “I.T.,” Ethan Hawke’s baseball movie “The Phenom,” “Western Bone Tomahawk” starring Kurt Russell and horror movie “The Mind’s Eye.” Johnson created RLJ Entertainment in 2012 when one of his companies agreed to acquire Image Entertainment and Acorn Media Group.

AMC said it expects RLJ Entertainment to weigh its offer, which it considers a long-term investment. “AMC Networks has advised RLJ Entertainment that it is only interested in acquiring the shares of RLJ Entertainment not owned by AMC Networks or entities affiliated with Mr. Johnson, and has no interest in disposing of its stake in RLJ Entertainment or participating in any other strategic process,” the company said in a statement.

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