Mera ups Spanish media profile

Billionaire has investments in TV prod'n, film companies

MADRID — In just a few years, Spanish billionaire Rosalia Mera has become a major media player. But few people are aware of the low-profile mogul’s influence.

Her Fundacion Paideia company recently entered TV production, backing the Internet-themed gameshow “Terceira rede” (Third Network).

To be produced by Aldea Films, “Network” is Mera’s latest entertainment biz investment.

Mera’s risk capital company Rosp Corunna has a 16% stake in Pancho Casal’s leading Galician production company, Continental Prods. In 2003 Rosp took 26% in Milou Films, which owns 95% of Gerardo Herrero’s Tornasol Films, one of Spain’s top artpic producers, and it put up 10% of the Spanish legit production of “Wit.” Last year she opened Mans, a recording studio cum film, TV and new tech office center outside La Coruna in Galicia.

Though Forbes rates Mera’s fortune at $2 billion, she neither flaunts her wealth nor courts publicity.

The 60-ish Mera is best known as the former wife of Amancio Ortega, owner of the hugely successful Zara clothes shop chain. She left school at 13 and met Ortega while working as a shop assistant.

Mera still has 6.7% in Zara holding Inditex, but has become an entrepreneur in her own right.

Cultured but down-to-earth with an infectious laugh, she can be caught in La Coruna dancing salsa on Thursday nights, and singing with friends at Os Beles, a typical tavern, on Fridays.

She clearly exerts some influence on the pics produced by companies in which she owns a stake.

Tornasol pics often feature strong women battling for social justice, while Continental co-produced Fernando Leon’s “Mondays in the Sun,” about unemployed dock-workers, which grossed $11.9 million in Spain.

“When films with social themes connect they can really impact,” Mera argues.

But she argues she’s no philanthropist — her investments combine a social preoccupation with business.

“Economic and social development go hand in hand,” Mera insists.

Mans boasts post-modernist red brick and glass facades and a car wash staffed by handicapped workers. With Mans, Mera may lose her low profile.

Composer Stephen Warbeck (“Shakespeare in Love”) will record the soundtrack for Daniel Breuhl-starrer “Cargo” at the studio complex.

One aim is to attract more filmmakers to the region, which has hosted shoots for films including Alejandro Amenabar’s “The Sea Inside” and Pedro Almodovar’s “Bad Education.”

Casal and Herrero are advancing plans for Estudios Finisterre, a one-stop facilities company.

“The industry’s in its adolescence, but there is at least potential,” Mera insists.

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