Credit where it’s due

Besson's Europa reels in $106 million loan

PARIS — Luc Besson’s rapidly growing EuropaCorp has secured a $106 million revolving production credit line to boost its moviemaking capacity.

In a deal to be announced today, six European banks will finance the credit line that will be open for three years, with repayment in 4 1/2 years.

The loan will help EuropaCorp finance eight to 10 films a year, including two or three big-budget international pics. EuropaCorp also will acquire two or three films for France.

A release from the company said the credit line “ushered in a decisive new phase in EuropaCorp’s business plan.”

Besson’s projects include the creation of an ambitious studio facility on the outskirts of Paris.

“The credit line is helpful rather than necessary,” Raphael Durand, EuropaCorp’s chief financial officer, told Daily Variety Thursday. “If we didn’t have it, we would do specific credit lines film by film. This loan makes things much easier.”

Created by Besson and business partner Pierre Ange Le Pogam four years ago, EuropaCorp has produced or co-produced more than 30 films.

It posted turnover of more than $132 million for the year ended March 31 and says it is in profit, although actual figures are kept under wraps.

To reduce risk, the company greenlights only films that are 80% pre-financed via distribution and TV deals, Durand said.

In its busiest year so far, EuropaCorp has a packed slate of pics in production or post, with budgets totaling more than $265 million.

They include “Bandidas,” starring Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek; Guy Ritchie’s “Revolver”; “The Transporter 2,” distributed worldwide by 20th Century Fox; and the Jet Li/Morgan Freeman starrer “Unleashed.”

Projects being developed include two novel adaptations, Douglas Kennedy’s “The Big Picture” and Tonino Benacquista’s “Malavita.”

At home the company recently released “13th District,” a Gallic actioner set in the near future.

EuropaCorp’s credit line was arranged and syndicated by French bank Societe Generale and CNCE, with Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP Paribas, Natexis Banques Populaires and Banque de Baecque Beau, a member of the HSBC Group, also participating.

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