San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Row 44 Acquired in $430 Million Deal

By Kelly Goff Thursday, November 8, 2012

Global Eagle Acquisition Corp. is purchasing in-flight Wi-Fi provider Row 44 Inc. in a $430 million deal that will pair it with a German company that provides entertainment content to air travelers.

Global Eagle Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company established last year in Los Angeles, is buying all of Westlake Village-based Row 44, and taking an 86 percent stake of Advanced Inflight Alliance AG, a publicly traded company based in Munich.

Global Eagle was founded by Harry Sloan, the former chief executive of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc., and Jeff Sagansky, former president at CBS Entertainment to acquire entertainment-related business. It raised $190 million in a May 2011 initial public offering.

Global Eagle is purchasing its stake in Advanced Inflight Alliance by acquiring 7.1 million shares of the company owned by PAR Investment Partners LP, a shareholder in Row 44. The German company licenses movies, games and television shows to airlines.

Row 44 provides Wi-Fi services to about 400 aircraft flown by a handful of airlines, including Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and UTAir, a Russian air line.

“Row 44 and AIA are leaders in their respective industries and have highly complementary products and customer bases,” said Edward Shapiro, chairman of both Row 44 and Advance Inflight’s supervisory board, in a statement. “With this transaction, not only will the two companies be able to enhance their offerings, but they will gain access to additional capital and relevant entertainment industry experience.”

Shapiro will become chairman of Global Eagle Entertainment. And all

members of Row 44 and AIA’s senior management teams will continue in their current roles under the new structure.

Shares of Global Eagle Acquisition gained 5 cents, or less than half of 1 percent, to close $9.95 on the Nasdaq.