Village confirms cash for Asia film
By Patrick Frater
Fri, 06 July 2012, 12:52 PM (HKT)
Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, an affiliate of Australia's publicly-listed Village Roadshow Limited, has raised US$275 million of finance for film production in Asia and the US.
The new cash is intended to boost the China-focussed Village Roadshow Entertainment Group Asia 威秀電影亞洲公司 and increase the number of co-financed and co-produced films by Village Roadshow Pictures where it co-invests in Hollywood studio titles alongside Warner Bros.
The finance takes the form of a six year mezzanine debt and equity arrangement, provided by Trinity Opportunities Limited and arranged by VREG and Hong Kong-based Shikumen Capital Management. It is additional to a $1 billion loan facility led by Rabobank International and JP Morgan Chase. As part of the financial manoeuvres, VRL will increase its stake in VREG from 41% to 47.6%.
"VREG's new funding will allow it to boost its film production operations over the next few years, including continued growth in the important market of China, where VREG Asia's first co-produced films are scheduled for release in 2013," said executive chairman of VRL, Robert Kirby.
Plans for VREG Asia were also clarified. "VREG Asia intends to mirror its US-based business model built on a strong portfolio of films and has launched its production business with an initial slate of projects, with plans to ramp up to five to eight titles per year," VRL said in a statement.
The first release for VREG Asia is Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons 西游 降魔篇, scheduled for February 2013. Directed by Stephen CHOW 周星馳, Journey is currently in post-production and is being co-produced with Edko Films Ltd 安樂影片有限公司 and Chow's Bingo Movie Development.
Its Man of Tai Chi 太極俠, which is still shooting in Hong Kong under the direction of Keanu REEVES, is also set for release during 2013. Universal and VREG Asia are co-financing and will co-distribute together with China Film Group Corporation 中國電影集團公司 and Wanda Media Co Ltd 萬達影視傳媒有限公司.
VRL said that its previously envisaged initial public offering of VREG is now "a medium term option." It is understood to have closely examined the possibility of an IPO on either the Hong Kong or Singapore stock exchanges.
Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
| 西游 降魔篇
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