Universal sells Rogue to financing partner

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Universal Pictures, a division of General Electric Co., has sold horror and thriller film label Rogue Pictures to its longtime financing partner Relativity Media LLC.

NBC Universal spokeswoman Kori Bernards on Sunday confirmed the deal was closed shortly before Christmas but declined to confirm the sale price. The New York Times reported the deal was for about $150 million.

Spokesmen for Relativity were not immediately available. In October, a person familiar with the deal talks cited a price tag of as much as $150 million for Relativity to acquire Rogue's brand, catalog and upcoming releases — about four this year — although Universal would continue to distribute its films.

The deal comes after Universal Pictures agreed to distribute up to six movies a year from Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks studio, which split from Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures.

The sale of Rogue will reduce overhead expenses for Universal and represents a significant hedge in a weakening economy as Universal's film slate is about to expand to about 35 movies a year after DreamWorks' productions hit theaters around the end of 2009.

Meanwhile, Relativity, run by dealmaker Ryan Kavanaugh, is seeking to get deeper into the film production business.

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