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Lionsgate, SGF strike $400 mil deal

Quebec unit to help finance productions

Lionsgate has set a four-year, $400 million slate financing pact with Societe generale de financement du Quebec, the government investment arm of the Canadian province.

Under the deal, SGF will finance up to 35% of production costs of television and feature film productions shot in Quebec for a four-year period for an aggregate investment of up to $140 million. SGF controls an investment portfolio valued at $2 billion.

A broad range of future Lionsgate TV and film shoots will fall under the agreement, including USA Network skein “The Dead Zone” and a new “Punisher” pic starring Ray Stevenson of HBO’s “Rome,” which is slated to start shooting in October.

In recent years, Lionsgate has shuttered its studio in Vancouver and purchased land in New Mexico, pursuing a plan to build a production facility there.

The Quebec transaction “reflects our commitment to form innovative and cost-effective alliances to continue expanding our television and motion picture production,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer.

Pierre Shedleur, SGF’s chairman of the board, prexy and general manager, said 6,700 full-time equivalent jobs would be created, generating total wages of $270 million.

Michael Burns, vice chairman of Lionsgate, also noted the province would have plenty of upside given its equity stake. A typical structure would be a $30 million budget consisting of one-third SGF financing, he said.

The pact helps Lionsgate, a company with longtime Canadian roots, maintain its historic commitment to production in the Great White North.

“We have a long history there, so we had been in regular dialogue,” said Burns. “Montreal is an increasingly attractive destination, because everybody who shoots there likes it. It’s easy to get to and its film-friendly.”

The mega-indie has been in expansion mode in recent months, taking significant minority stakes in Break.com and Roadside Attractions and, in a marquee financing deal, setting a $400 million, 23-picture theatrical slate financing agreement. The slate deal’s lead financiers are Goldman, Sachs & Co., JP Morgan Chase and Jefferies & Co.

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