Monthly Archives: July 2015

2015
07/25

Category:
Secured Financing

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Horizon Capital calls upon all Americas Petrogas shareholders to vote against …

PANAMA CITY, Republic of Panama, July 6, 2015 /CNW/ – Horizon Capital Management Inc. (Horizon) issued today a public statement calling upon all shareholders of Americas Petrogas Inc. (Americas Petrogas or the Company) (TSXV: BOE) to VOTE AGAINST the special resolution (the Transaction Resolution) at the annual and special meeting of the Company currently scheduled to take place on July 29, 2015 (the Meeting), that would approve the sale by the Company of all of the outstanding common shares of Americas Petrogas Argentina SA (APASA) to Tecpetrol International SA and its affiliates (Tecpetrol) and related transactions (the Proposed Transaction). 

Juan Argento, Senior Advisor of Horizon, said, Horizon believes that the Proposed Transaction undervalues the Company, is opportunistic given current market conditions, inappropriately incentivizes management and insiders of the Company at the expense of the minority shareholders and is not in the best interests of the Company or its shareholders.  The Company is selling its principal assets at the worst possible time, keeping the cash consideration instead of distributing it to shareholders and disclosing no details of how it intends to use such funds. 

In its public statement Horizon is demanding that the Companys Board of Directors (the Board) postpone the Meeting so that it takes immediate action to address these issues including by (i) renegotiating the deal with Tecpetrol or finding another partner, (ii) maintaining at least some of the upside in the assets that are the object of the Proposed Transaction, (iii) avoiding selling the only producing assets of the Company, and (iv) presenting a clear plan to the Companys shareholders that includes significantly reducing selling, general and administrative (SGamp;A) expenses.

Founded in 2004, Horizon is a merchant banking firm with advisory and principal investment activities and with substantial focus on the oil and gas industry in Latin America.  

The text of the public statement to Americas Petrogas shareholders is as follows:

Dear Fellow Americas Petrogas Shareholders:

We are a significant shareholder in Americas Petrogas.  We are extremely disappointed with the terms of the Proposed Transaction with Tecpetrol for the following reasons: 

The Proposed Transaction completely changes the nature of the business of the Company. 

  • Shareholders invested in a company with valuable oil and gas assets that had tremendous upside potential. If it proceeds, the Proposed Transaction will result in the Company disposing of (i) all of its principal oil and gas assets including all producing assets and (ii) all of its oil reserves and most of its gas reserves. The Company will be left with only those oil and gas assets that are less attractive to investors and an early-stage mining operation in Peru with uncertain future value (ie, the Bayovar property).
  • According to the latest drilling results released by the Company on May 13, 2015, the Bayovar property contains mostly inferred resources (that are highly uncertain) and a very low level of indicated resources. Based on the valuations of other publicly-listed companies at a similar stage of development and with a similar level of resources we attribute a value of less than USD 5 million today to this property.
  • In sum, if the Proposed Transaction proceeds, shareholders will be left with a Company that has no production or revenues, and assets that are very early stage, less attractive and of little value.

The valuation of the Proposed Transaction is unattractive. 

  • The Company is selling approximately 121,000 net acres of oil properties that include (i) the conventional fields that provided all current production and revenues, (ii) all of its oil reserves and most of its gas reserves, and (iii) the most valuable unconventional acreage (Los Toldos area), in exchange for total consideration of USD 63 million, or USD 520 per acre.
  • Furthermore, assuming a value of USD 30 million for the conventional assets (based on public comparable companies), the Company is selling the unconventional assets for USD 33 million or a mere USD 346 per acre.
  • It is difficult to reconcile this valuation with historical comparable transactions. In 2013, the Companys Chief Executive Officer, Barclay Hambrook, was on record saying that the valuation of comparable transactions in Argentina had averaged more than USD 10,000 per acre.
  • In fact, Chevron and Dow Chemical farmed into Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales (YPF) properties in 2013 at an implied value of USD 10,000 and 10,900 per acre, respectively.
  • More recently, on August 28, 2014, after oil prices began to drop, Petronas farmed into a YPF property at an implied value of USD 10,280 per acre.
  • In North America, comparable transactions in Bakken, which has very similar characteristics to Vaca Muerta, reached values of up to USD 50,000 per acre before the drop in oil prices. More recent transactions in May 2015 have been completed at approximately USD 14,000 per acre.
  • While we are aware that the fall in oil prices has temporarily affected valuations, Vaca Muerta continues to be considered the most attractive unconventional shale opportunity outside of North America. Besides YPF, companies such as Exxon, Shell and Total continue to enthusiastically invest in Vaca Muerta despite the current price environment.
  • If the Proposed Transaction is approved it will be done at the Companys peril and that of its shareholders.

It is a terrible time to sell. 

  • The Proposed Transaction has been entered into at a historical low-point in the valuation of the Company. The shares of the Company traded as high as CAD 4.38 in February 2012, and more recently, at CAD 1.57 in April 2014, before oil prices started declining. That is, respectively, approximately 19 times and seven times the June 16, 2015 closing price of CAD 0.23.
  • Most analysts expect oil prices to progressively recover in 2016, 2017 and beyond.
  • Importantly, Presidential elections in Argentina in October of this year will result in a new government that many expect will be significantly more business-friendly. This change will likely facilitate attracting fresh capital for the oil and gas industry and will likely have a significant positive impact on asset valuations.
  • We understand it is a tough time for small Eamp;P companies in Latin America. But peer companies are not selling assets at this time. They have instead cut capital expenditures, slashed SGamp;A expenses and postponed drilling commitments in order to adapt to the current price environment and effectively capitalize on the future recovery of the sector.
  • The Proposed Transaction is an irresponsible short term fix and the Board knows or ought to know that there are better ways for the Company to address its current issues that will be in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders over the long term.

The Board is misleading shareholders with statements in the management information circular that suggest there are no alternative transactions or sources of capital available to the Company. 

  • Despite the difficult market conditions, there is alternative financing available to the Company. Many comparable companies in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America have secured financing during this difficult period. Throughout 2015, many of the Companys closest peers (ie, junior Canadian companies with oil and gas assets in Argentina) including Crown Point Energy, Andes Energia and Madalena Energy, were able to raise capital in order to continue investing in each of their respective businesses in Argentina. Other Canadian junior companies with assets in Latin America including Canacol, Parex and Pacific Rubiales, also secured equity and debt financings in 2015.
  • Horizon has been and continues to be very active in advising multiple Latin American oil and gas companies in their capital raising and Mamp;A efforts.
  • We expect that the Company must have received a number of alternative offers that would allow its shareholders to participate in the upside (even if these offers were to contain a lower cash consideration component payable to the Company). Horizon would have considered such offers considerably more accretive to long term value.
  • Horizon has had conversations with different parties that have expressed interest in (i) farming into the assets of the Company and / or (ii) providing financing to the Company.
  • Like most of its peers, the Company should reduce SGamp;A, cut capital expenditures and push out drilling commitments while securing enough financing to continue its operations until the conditions in Argentina and the global oil and gas market improve, which could be as soon as Q1 2016.
  • The Board and management seem to have put their short term interests above the long term interests of shareholders by maximizing cash proceeds to the Company now to continue to fund their outsized compensation and excessive spending instead of maximizing the prospects of long term value creation for all shareholders.

The Company is unnecessarily giving away most of its upside. 

  • Instead of selling the assets, the Company could have partially farmed out the assets to a new partner, reducing its capital requirements while keeping a substantial part of the upside.
  • In fact, it would have been possible for the Company to negotiate to be freely carried by a new partner, meaning the new partner would have been responsible for 100% of the capital expenditures on the assets while earning less than 100% working interest on the assets.
  • This transaction structure is typical for assets at this stage of development and was used by the Company when it farmed out the Los Toldos blocks to Exxon in 2011. In that instance, Exxon agreed to fund up to USD 76.3 million to earn a 45% working interest in the Companys Los Toldos blocks. This arrangement was a much more attractive transaction for shareholders and was completed at a time when the assets were significantly more risky. Since then, three exploration wells were drilled in Los Toldos with positive results, which has significantly de-risked the assets and therefore enhanced their attractiveness to new investors.
  • As a result, we simply do not believe the Company is unable to find a partner that is willing to fund additional investments in Los Toldos and its other assets. This approach would allow the Company and its shareholders to benefit from the tremendous upside potential that is inherent in these assets.

The Proposed Transaction is not providing any cash consideration to the shareholders while rewarding insiders and management.

  • The cash consideration offered by Tecpetrol will be paid to the Company and to management and not to the shareholders, despite the fact that the Company is effectively exiting its principal business. The cash consideration should instead be paid to shareholders.
  • According to the Companys management information circular dated July 29, 2015, the Company will be responsible for paying up to $6 million worth of change of control and severance payments whereas shareholders will not see a penny.
  • Shareholders will be left with limited options. Selling stock in the secondary market is an inferior alternative given (i) the illiquidity of the stock, and (ii) the fact that the current market price is significantly below the cash consideration per share agreed in the Proposed Transaction. Furthermore, the Board has failed to explain the value proposition for shareholders if the Proposed Transaction proceeds.

The interests of the largest shareholder in the Company, Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), which has committed to vote in favor of the Proposed Transaction, might not be aligned with the interests of the rest of the shareholders. 

2015
07/24

Category:
Revenue

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Mike Alley to retire from IN Department of Revenue

Pike County native Mike Alley will retire this month as commissioner of the Indiana Department of Revenue, a position that hes occupied for a little more than three years.

On Monday, Gov. Mike Pence announced that Alleys successor will be Andrew Kossack, who is currently the Department of Revenues chief of staff. Kossacks appointment takes effect July 17.

Alley, who is originally from Petersburg, now lives in Carmel and spent most of his career as a banker. He served as president and chief executive officer of Fifth Third Banks Central Indiana market from 1989-2002.

Evansville residents may be most familiar with Alley from his time with Integra Bank. Alley joined Integras board of directors in 2009, and he was named board chairman and CEO that same year. Integra failed in July 2011; but Alley won respect from employees after fighting to save the bank.

Alley was named commissioner at the Department of Revenue in May 2012, at a time when that agency was in crisis.

In the six months preceding Alleys appointment, two separate processing errors were discovered in the Department of Revenues operations. One of those errors resulted in $288 million in collected taxes not being properly credited to the states general fund. The other involved a $206 million error in how local option income tax was distributed to counties. Both of those errors have since been corrected.

Kossack, Alleys successor, is an attorney who has had a variety of positions within Indianas state government.

Before his current role as chief of staff at the Department of Revenue, Kossack worked as policy director and general counsel for the Office of Management and Budget, and as Pences education and workforce policy director.

He was also the state public access counselor under former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

2015
07/24

Category:
Secured Financing

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Secret Agent Man’s Advice on Gaining New Opportunities

Agents usually go on vacation this time of year because theres not much going on. Pilot season is over. Episodic casting hasnt started. And the phones arent ringing, so why not?

Ive had some amazing vacations in June and I wanted 2015 to be memorable, too. But where to go? What to do? And then it hit me. I have a friend who moved to New Zealand a few years ago and hes always said theres a spare bed at his place if Im ever in the mood for a 16-hour flight.

So that was the plan. Two weeks exploring the land of Peter Jackson. Game on.

Then I remembered that I had recently seen an amazing film from New Zealand called The Unholy. It didnt get much of a release in this country but I was able to catch it at a festival and I loved every minute. I especially liked the lead, a talented woman named Felicity.

Acting purely on instinct, I sent her a message on Facebook explaining who I was and when I would be there. I told her my trip had nothing to do with the business. It was just a vacation, and since I loved her movie, it might be fun to meet up for lunch.

And then I did some research, which was something I shouldve done first, and discovered Felicity was a working actor in New Zealand with a substantial resume. She even had American representation in the form of the almighty CAA. Bottom line, this woman certainly didnt need anything from me. Her career was humming along just fine without yours truly, and that meant she probably wouldnt respond to my email.

But a few hours later, she did indeed respond and we agreed to get together when I was there. Spending time with a Kiwi performer sounded like fun, but I decided not to hold my breath because I assumed actors were flaky on both sides of the hemisphere.

Well, I was wrong about that, because about a week later, we met for lunch in a neighborhood restaurant she liked on the outskirts of Auckland. It was the kind of place a tourist would never find and I loved everything about it. Good food, friendly localsit was the best.

They must breed actors differently down there, because Felicity barely talked about her career. Instead, we had a great time getting to know each other without the industry rearing its ugly head.

When we were done eating, Felicity surprised me (again) by insisting on playing tour guide the next day, an offer I quickly accepted. And we had a blast. She took me around to all the sights and I even got to meet a few of her friends. The fact that an actor would go so out of her way for an agent without wanting something in return did my cynical heart good.

To top it all off, one of her friends was a producer who had just secured financing for a film that would need a few young Americans. Long story short, I had some of my clients go on tape when I got home and one of them ended up getting a lead in his movie!

So the simple act of reaching out to a stranger in a friendly manner got me a new friend, some great memories, and a unique opportunity for one of my clients.

I wonder what might happen if you do the same?

Like this advice? Check out more from Secret Agent Man!

2015
07/23

Category:
Revenue

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Wanda Cinema Line’s Box-Office Revenue Rises

Chinas largest cinema operator, Wanda Cinema Line, said its box-office revenue rose 43.3 percent year on year to $459.12 million (yen;2.85 billion) in the six months to the end of June.

The share price closed down 10 percent at 197.71 ($31.84) in the Shenzhen bourse Monday, but it was hard to say whether that was due to the general volatility in the market or a reaction to the results.

The freshly listed cinema chain owned by Chinas richest man, Wang Jianlin, welcomed 102 million moviegoers last year.

Chinas share market is on a roller-coaster ride at the moment. Nearly $3 trillion in stock values has been lost in the last three weeks, and the key index, the Shanghai Composite Index, has lost around 30 percent of its value over the past three weeks, after having risen more than 150 percent in value since the start of the current bull run.

The cinema operator is a subsidiary of the real estate giant Dalian Wanda group, which in 2012 bought North Americas second-biggest theater chain, AMC Entertainment, for $2.6 billion. Wanda Cinema is involved in cinema construction, film distribution and screening and related business such as advertising.

The group is 68 percent owned by Wanda Investment, of which WangJianlin owns 98 percent.

Last year, Wanda opened 40 new cinemas for a total of 369 screens, bringing its total by the end of last year to 182 cinemas and 1,616 screens.

By the end of last year, China had 23,600 screens, and it is expected to become the worlds biggest cinema market at some point in the next few years.

In August, the group said it was spending $1.2 billion to develop its Hollywood presence after it won a bid for a plot of land at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, for the HQ of its US entertainment business.

2015
07/22

Category:
Revenue

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Kalamazoo budget panel should consider cost reduction alongside revenue …

Members Kalamazoos blue ribbon budget revenue panel met for the third time Monday to continue their discussion on how to generate additional revenue for the city in light of a looming budget shortfall that will reach $6 million annually by 2020.

(Mickey Ciokajlo | Kalamazoo Gazette)

2015
07/22

Category:
Credit Cards

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New chip credit cards put squeeze on small business

New chip credit cards put squeeze on small businessChange from old readers challenging technology to install

2015
07/21

Category:
Revenue

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IFO: Shale impact fee could bring in the smallest amount of revenue since 2012

Pennsylvania is on track this year to bring in the smallest amount of impact fee revenue from shale gas wells since the fee was adopted in 2012, according to new projections published by the states Independent Fiscal Office.

Low natural gas prices, fewer new wells and declining production in older wells will likely combine to shrink the total 2015 impact fee payments between $14.9 million and $33.9 million from last year, the IFO said. Pennsylvania received $223.5 million in impact fee revenues for 2014.

If drilling and production trends for the first half of the year continue, Pennsylvania will collect $189.6 million for 2015, the IFO said. If drilling picks up moderately through the end of the year and older wells continue to produce enough gas to qualify for the fee, the state can expect to collect $196.1 million.

In the most optimistic of the three scenarios, the state will collect $208.6 million in impact fees for 2015. But that scenario assumes that the number of new horizontal wells drilled this year will be the same as last year an improbable outcome since new well starts are down roughly 30 percent so far this year. It also assumes that no more older wells this year will see production declines that make them ineligible for the fee.

That best-case scenario, the fiscal office said, demonstrates that even under very optimistic assumptions, [calendar year] 2015 impact fee revenues will decline substantially if low natural gas prices persist throughout 2015, as analysts expect.

Pennsylvania has never raised less than $200 million a year since it began collecting impact fees in 2012. It raised the least amount of annual impact fee revenue so far $202.5 million in 2012.

Companies drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale and other hard-to-crack rock formations pay the highest impact fee when they drill a new well and pay lower amounts in subsequent years for up to 15 years. The fee is based on the annual average price of gas on the New York Mercantile Exchange, which is projected to fall below $3 per million British thermal units this year. If the lower price holds, as the fiscal office assumes it will, companies will have to pay $5,000 less per well this year than last year under the terms of the law.

Impact fees are assessed after each calendar year and the payments are due to the state every April.

Chances are slim that drilling will pick up enough in the second half of the year to make up for the declines in the first half, the IFO said. Gas production reports collected by the state show companies already have significant unused production capacity in the form of nearly 1,000 wells that have been drilled but not yet completed to produce gas and an additional 760 wells that are capable of production but have been turned off.

This large inventory of non-producing wells, as well as low spot prices, suggest that new drilling activity will not offset reductions from the first half of the year, the IFO said.

Much of the impact fee revenue is sent to communities that host shale gas wells to compensate them for the impacts on roads, services and landscapes that come with the development of wells. Impact fees are also allocated to state environmental, infrastructure, emergency management and housing programs.

Distributions to state agencies about $18 million are fixed each year and come first, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission spokesman Nils Hagen-Frederiksen said. Sixty percent of the remaining balance gets distributed to counties and municipalities with wells, and 40 percent goes into a fund that is used for water, sewer and highway projects and county environmental initiatives.

The funding hierarchy means communities will likely share a smaller pot of money if the IFOs projections are realized, but the exact breakdown is hard to predict.

With so many variables potentially affecting the calculations, its extremely difficult to forecast any impact (positive or negative) on individual municipalities, Mr. Hagen-Frederiksen said.

The new impact fee projections come as Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-controlled General Assembly try again to reach a consensus on a state budget. One of Mr. Wolfs budget priorities is to raise money for education, energy development and environmental protection with a new severance tax on shale gas production, which the Legislatures Republican leaders oppose. They say the current impact fee is a tax that strikes a fair balance for gas producers and the state.

Mr. Wolfs spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan said the lower impact fee projections bolster the case for the governors severance tax proposal, which would maintain the impact fees distribution to state programs and communities and raise more money for education.

Laura Legere: llegere@post-gazette.com

2015
07/20

Category:
Secured Financing

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How a tiny diesel-powered island is becoming a U.S. wind hub

In March, Deepwater Wind secured financing for its planned 30-megawatt, 5-turbine wind farm to be built 3 miles off the Block Island coast. The wind farm will generate an estimated 125,000 megawatt-hours per year, more than enough power for island residents, with the excess being exported to Rhode Island. 

The economics are one of the main reasons wind was chosen.

“Block Island had a lot of choices (PDF) to get off of the expensive imported diesel. They could have switched to propane gensets or compressed natural gas,” said Chris Burgess, operations manager for the Ten Island Challenge, a program of Rocky Mountain Institute and Carbon War Room. “But they decided to go with renewables for a couple of reasons. One, it met the island’s ethical code of wanting to protect the environment, and two, it’s cost effective.”

To wit, Deepwater is predicted to reduce residents’ utility bills by 40 percent and lower carbon dioxide emissions by 40,000 tons annually.

Connecting to the mainland grid

Deepwater Wind will be selling its electricity through a power purchase agreement (PPA) to National Grid, an international company based in the UK and the US Northeast with 3.4 million customers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.

BIPCo will continue to own and operate the electricity infrastructure on the island but will buy the wind power from National Grid for its customers. The wind power will flow directly from the wind farm to the island, and then — as Block Island uses only 1 MW of power during off-season and 4 MW of power during their summer peak season — the excess power (90 percent of the power produced) will be sent to National Grid’s mainland customers on Rhode Island. 

A cable buried 6 feet under the ocean floor will link the wind farm and Block Island to the mainland. Thus Block Island has no need for storage, and no need for backup diesel generators, as it can purchase electricity from National Grid once the cable is laid.

Block Island had considered installing its own cable to the mainland, but at a cost of almost $40 million, it actually would not have reduced electric retail prices, as ratepayers would be footing the bill for the cable. Now that Block Island gets to use the Deepwater cable, the island only has to pay a fraction of the cost.

It’s a win-win situation, as not only does the island rid itself of diesel dependence, but also the US gets its first offshore wind farm.

Overcoming initial challenges 

Wind projects face many challenges, one of which is community objections based on issues — some perceived, some subjective, some legitimate — including noise, aesthetics, bird migration or other issues.

Up until now, other proposed offshore wind farms in the US Northeast have failed because of opposition from Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod residents disturbed by the impact on their ocean viewshed.

One of the most important things Deepwater Wind did to move the project forward was to involve the entire community of Block Island and National Grid’s Rhode Island customers from the beginning.

For example, people were concerned construction would disrupt the migration of the North Atlantic right whales. So Deepwater Wind put together a partnership with environmental groups and voluntarily imposed additional restrictions on construction activities, beyond the federal guidelines.

“Being engaged and active in both Block Island and mainland Rhode Island gave us the ability to take a group of stakeholders with legitimate concerns, bring them into the process, answer their questions and address their concerns,” said Clint Plummer, vice president of development at Deepwater Wind. 

Another big hurdle was getting the right regulatory market environment. Rhode Island had to pass new legislation to allow Deepwater Wind to sell power to National Grid.

Deepwater Wind had to get permits and approvals from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, as well as the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the US Army Corps of Engineers, among other agencies.

“It was critical to have a partner in government,” said Plummer, “having a state that recognizes it needs to be on the forefront of creating innovative policy mechanisms.”

The third big challenge was pulling together a global supply chain. Currently no manufacturers of offshore wind turbine parts are in the US So the turbine foundations are being built in Rhode Island and Louisiana, the turbines in Europe and the cable in Korea.

However, according to Plummer, “as the industry grows and develops there will be opportunity to create a local supply chain, creating more local jobs and lowering costs.”

2015
07/19

Category:
Credit Cards

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Credit Cards Stolen From Purses at Northbrook Court

Two cases of credit cards being stolen from purses at Northbrook Court were reported on consecutive days this week.

On June 23, a woman who had been dining with a friend at a Mall restaurant noticed her credit card missing the her purse that was located behind her when she went to pay the bill. She immediately called the credit card company, but found a purchase of $4,500 was already made at another Mall business.

The next day, another woman reported her credit cards were stolen from her purse while dining at the Mall and learned shortly after that theft transactions were attempted at the Mall using the credit cards.

2015
07/18

Category:
Secured Financing

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National Geographic Channel Announces Cast of Four-Hour Movie Event Saints …

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–National Geographic Channel (@NatGeoChannel) today announced the cast of
the upcoming four-hour television movie event Saints amp; Strangers,
directed by Paul Edwards and produced by Sony Pictures Television with
Little Engine Productions.

The Saints

The “saints” aboard the Mayflower were religious separatists who
abandoned their prior lives for religious freedom and an opportunity to
create a new social order built on their values.

  • Vincent Kartheiser (“Mad Men”) plays William Bradford, the
    colony’s moral compass who would eventually serve as long-time
    governor of Plymouth Colony.
  • Anna Camp (“Pitch Perfect,” “True Blood”) is Dorothy Bradford,
    his wife, still haunted by their decision to leave their
    three-year-old son behind for the journey to the New World.
  • Ron Livingston (“Band of Brothers”) stars as John Carver, the
    initial leader of the Pilgrims and the first governor of the Plymouth
    Colony.
  • Barry Sloane (“Revenge”) plays Plymouth leader Edward Winslow
    who would serve as a diplomat to the nearby Pokanoket tribe and their
    leader Massasoit.
  • Michael Jibson (“Hatfields amp; McCoys”) is Myles Standish who,
    though not a separatist himself, was hired as the colony’s military
    adviser.

The Strangers

The “strangers” were those Mayflower passengers who were seeking
adventure and financial opportunity, not religious freedom.

  • Ray Stevenson (“Divergent”) stars as Stephen Hopkins, a leader
    of the strangers — albeit one with a checkered past — and the only
    Mayflower passenger who had previously been to the New World.
  • Natascha McElhone (“Californication”) is his wife, Elizabeth
    Hopkins, who gives birth to their second child aboard the Mayflower and
    is one of only four women to survive to the first Thanksgiving.
  • Brían F. O’Byrne (“Aquarius”) is John Billington, an
    antagonistic patriarch of a family known for troublemaking.

The Native Americans

The Mayflower passengers were far from the first settlers on New
England, preceded by a number of Native American tribes confronted with
their own political turmoil long before the arrival of the Europeans.

  • Raoul Trujillo (“Apocalypto”) plays Massasoit, the sachem — or
    leader — of the Pokanoket tribe. Plague has decimated the Pokanoket
    population, leaving Massasoit uncertain of how to deal with the
    arrival of the new settlers.
  • Tatanka Means (“Banshee”) plays Hobbamock, one of Massasoit’s
    men and a Pniese — an elite warrior thought to be unkillable in battle.
  • Kalani Queypo (“The New World”) is Squanto, a former captive
    and slave of English explorers, who has crossed the Atlantic four
    times and acts as a translator and negotiator between Massasoit and
    the governors of the Plymouth Colony.

“I am incredibly excited by the talented ensemble that we have assembled
for this movie,” said Tim Pastore, NGC’s president of original
programming and production. “Under Paul’s direction, and with the
powerful script we have from Eric Overmyer and Seth Fisher, I cannot
wait to see what this cast can do.”

“We are delighted that our epic historical adventure will come to life
with an amazing cast of brilliant actors,” said Helen Verno, executive
vice president, movies and miniseries, Sony Pictures Television.

Saints amp; Strangers is a story that goes beyond the familiar
historical account of Thanksgiving, revealing the trials and
tribulations of the first settlers at Plymouth: 101 men, women and
children who sailed on a chartered ship for a place they had ever seen.
Of this group, half were those we know as “Pilgrims,” religious
separatists who abandoned their prior lives for a single cause:
religious freedom. The other, the “adventurers,” were motivated by
real-world material objectives as opposed to spiritual ideas. This clash
of values created complex inner struggles for the group as they sought
to establish new individual identities and a new colony, compounded by a
complicated relationship with the Native Americans. The settlers’
willingness to take risks, adapt and persevere despite the odds
continues to define the American spirit to this day.

Saints amp; Strangers will be produced for National Geographic
Channels US by Sony Pictures Television. For Little Engine Productions,
executive producers are Grant Scharbo and Gina Matthews, Teri Weinberg
is executive producer, Eric Overmyer is executive producer/writer, and
Seth Fisher is writer. The original script was written by Chip
Johannessen, with revisions by Walon Green. For Sony Pictures
Television, executive vice president of movies and limited series is
Helen Verno. For National Geographic Channels, president of original
programming and production is Tim Pastore; vice president of production
is Matt Renner.

National Geographic Channels

Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington,
DC, the National Geographic Channels US are a joint venture between
National Geographic and Fox Networks. The Channels contribute to the
National Geographic Society’s commitment to exploration, conservation
and education with smart, innovative programming and profits that
directly support its mission. Launched in January 2001, National
Geographic Channel (NGC) celebrated its fifth anniversary with the debut
of NGC HD. In 2010, the wildlife and natural history cable channel Nat
Geo WILD was launched, and in 2011, the Spanish-language network Nat Geo
Mundo was unveiled. The Channels have carriage with all of the nation’s
major cable, telco and satellite television providers, with NGC
currently available in more than 90 million US homes. Globally,
National Geographic Channel is available in more than 432 million homes
in 171 countries and 45 languages. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com.

Sony Pictures Television

Sony Pictures Television (http://www.sonypicturestelevision.com),
a Sony Pictures Entertainment company, is one of the television
industry’s leading content providers, producing and distributing
programming worldwide in every genre and for every platform. In addition
to one of the industry’s largest libraries of award-winning feature
films, television shows and formats, Sony Pictures Television (SPT)
boasts a current program slate that includes top-rated daytime dramas
and game shows, landmark off-network series, original animated series,
and critically acclaimed primetime dramas, comedies and telefilms. In
addition to its US production business, SPT has 19 wholly owned or
joint venture production companies in 13 countries and also maintains
offices in 31 countries. SPT’s worldwide television networks portfolio
includes 150 channel feeds available in 178 countries, reaching more
than 1.3 billion cumulative households worldwide. SPT also creates
original content for and manages the studio’s premium video website,
Crackle. Additionally, SPT owns US production company Embassy Row and
is a part owner of the cable channel Game Show Network (GSN). SPT
advertiser sales is one of the premier national advertising sales
companies and handles the commercial inventory in SPT’s syndicated
series as well as in the Rural Media Group and DoctorOZ.com.

Little Engine Productions

Little Engine Productions is a Los Angeles-based production company and
studio dedicated to the development, financing and production of
high-end television and feature films. Headed by the Emmy Award-winning
husband and wife team of Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo, Little Engine,
founded in 2007, has produced over 100 hours of network television, most
recently the USA drama “Rush,” written and directed by filmmaker
Jonathan Levine, and the ABC thriller “Missing,” starring Ashley Judd
(for which she received an Emmy nomination). They have also produced a
number of hit films, including “What Women Want,” starring Mel Gibson
and Helen Hunt, and “13 Going on 30,” starring Jennifer Garner and Mark
Ruffalo.

Matthews and Scharbo are known for their hands-on approach to the
creative process, as well as their high-end talent and film and network
contacts. In addition to continued work within the studio system, Little
Engine recently secured financing from Toronto-based Aver Media and The
Bank of Montreal, allowing them to function as a studio in the
straight-to-series television model. They will distribute their content
through Sony Distribution.

Also, as EU passport holders, Matthews and Scharbo are uniquely
positioned to take full advantage of the lucrative international tax
credits, subsidies and treaties available, as well as higher EU content
license fees. As a result, they can produce high-end content at a lower
deficit, and put their creative partners closer to back-end
participation.

Other notable television projects from Little Engine include: ABC’s
straight-to-series “The Gates,” starring Frank Grillo and Rhona Mitra;
the WB series “The Mountain,” with Oliver Hudson; the sci-fi drama “Jake
2.0” for UPN; the WB hit series “Popular,” starring Leslie Bibb and
Carly Pope; and “The Chronicle” for the SyFy Network.

Little Engine currently has a number of high-profile TV projects in the
works, including “Shadows,” a co-venture with Sony for ABC; “Wasteland,”
a co-venture with Sony for NBC; and the four-hour miniseries Saints amp;
Strangers, which they will begin production on this summer for
National Geographic Channel and Sony.