Luc Besson retains control

Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp has raised E70 million ($95 million) in a heavily oversubscribed IPO that saw some 21% of the company listed on the stock market Friday.

Shares began trading at around $21.07, valuing the film company behind the “Taxi” franchise and hit kids toon “Arthur and the Invisibles” at more than $418.7 million.

In a statement, the company boasted that some 7,000 institutional and individual investors had given the listing “an enthusiastic welcome,” with the stock oversubscribed “more than three times.” As a result, an additional $9.5 million in shares could be issued.

Besson will end up with a controlling stake of 61%-63%.

At a recent presentation, Besson and his business partner Pierre-Ange Le Pogam said they were aiming to double the company’s revenues over the next four years to about $430 million. Last year, EuropaCorp made a profit of $10.8 million on revenues of $215 million.

The two reassured the market by explaining the company’s low-risk approach to film financing: A film is not put into production until at least 80% of the budget is covered by pre-sales.

Besson presented tables showing that, in practice, EuropaCorp’s higher-budget pics were usually pre-financed more than 100%.

“The bigger the budget, the easier a film is to finance,” Besson said.

Following the IPO, the company plans to stick to its current output of eight to 10 films per year, but it will double the budgets of the two or three English-language pics it produces from $30 million-$40 million to up to $82 million to pay for more bankable stars. EuropaCorp will also be in the market for film library acquisitions.

Besson’s multimillion-dollar project to build a studio facility on the outskirts of Paris, dubbed the Cite du Cinema, is not part of the deal; that project will be financed separately. EuropaCorp is planning to rent a quarter of the studio’s proposed 269,000 square feet of office space with an option to buy.

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