Gallic giant SocGen nabs U.K. pic vet Hoon

New media head will help move French financier into U.S. film

LONDON — French banking giant Societe Generale has taken an important step into the European film financing business by hiring Premila Hoon and her team away from British merchant bank Guinness Mahon.

This follows SocGen’s move into U.S. film financing through the acquisition last year of Beverly Hills-based investment banking boutique Bannon & Co.

Hoon, one of the leading figures in U.K. film lending, has been named head of media for SocGen’s project and sectoral finance group. She will be based in London at Hambros Bank, which was taken over by SocGen a couple of months ago.

She will be joined by two members of her Guinness Mahon team, Michael Shyjka and Thomas Gardiner.

Initially she will focus on building a lending business similar to the one she ran at Guinness Mahon, but on a much larger scale, based principally on discounting pre-sales contracts for indie movies. At Guinness Mahon she loaned at most $60 million for around 10 films a year, but at SocGen “the sky’s the limit provided we get good deals,” Hoon told Daily Variety.

She also will be looking to provide credit lines for companies, an area Guinness Mahon has avoided for several years after some bad experiences in the 1980s.

She will be targeting many of her long-established indie clients, such as Capitol Films and Merchant Ivory Prods., but also will be using SocGen’s much deeper pockets to seek relationships with the European majors, particularly the French.

SocGen is a shareholder in Gallic TV giants Canal Plus and TF1, and has close links with Pathe.

In the longer term Hoon also has a mandate to develop SocGen’s investment banking business in European film and TV, in parallel with Societe Generale Bannon’s activities in the U.S.

Craig Bennett, SocGen’s Paris-based head of project and sectoral finance, said, “Premila is very well known in the film industry, having built up a successful niche business over 11 years where she was involved in the financing of over 80 films. SG’s medium-term strategy is to build up its investment banking activity through the integration of commercial and investment banking in the media and entertainment sector. The longer-term objective is to position SG as the premier European bank in this sector.”

Recent films for which Hoon’s team arranged financing include “Wilde,” “Shooting Fish,” “A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries,” “Bedrooms and Hallways” and “The Misadventures of Margaret.”

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