Teutonic tax roll

Cobalt, Comerica joining the film fund fray

LONDON — As the German tax year draws to a close, the season for raising film and TV funds is kicking into high gear in Germany.

U.K.-based sales and financing entity Cobalt Media and the L.A. division of Comerica Bank (formerly Imperial Bank) are the latest players to join the fray.

Cobalt Media is working with German production giant Studio Hamburg on a 100 million euro ($89.85 million) fund backed by Netherlands-based ING Bank. They are looking to raise the coin from German investors in order to produce five to seven English-lingo features in the $5 million-$20 million budget range.

ING, Hamburg partner

ING and Studio Hamburg are the joint shareholders in the new entity, Studio Hamburg World Wide Pictures, for which Cobalt Media will act as the primary sales agent on a nonexclusive basis. Company will be run by Studio Hamburg’s Wolfgang Esenwein.

Meanwhile, Comerica’s German dependency, Media Entertainment Funding, is launching a feature film fund for an undisclosed sum to be backed by German bank Sal Oppenheim. New fund will be managed by Media Entertainment Funding chief Michael Braun and Mathias Wittich.

To be launched Nov. 1, Media Entertainment & Co. 1 Filmproduktion will raise coin for nine English-lingo telepics to be produced by the L.A.- based Unified Film Organization and CineTel on behalf of Media Entertainment Funding. Selection of projects will be made together with Comerica Entertainment Group.

Concern over coin

There is some concern that with the current economic climate, high-rolling Germans will be reluctant to invest this year in these funds, which offer tax-shelter incentives in return for investment.

Laws introduced earlier this year have also made funds more risky, another factor that may deter potential investors. According to a recent study by Merrill Lynch, German film funds account for 15%-20% of the funding of all major Hollywood movies.

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