MRC draws cash despite crunch

Org makes deal for $350 million

Media Rights Capital has locked up the coin to fund its ambitious film, TV and digital production slate for the next three years, closing a three-year, $350 million revolving credit facility with a syndicate of banks led by JPMorgan Chase and Comerica.

Timing of the deal is notable given the seize-up in the nation’s financial and credit sectors during the past few weeks. Remarkably, MRC execs began the negotiations with banks only six weeks ago, at the start of the latest wave of tremors from the credit and mortgage meltdown crisis that has rocked Wall Street institutions such as Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Deal’s closing gives MRC immediate access to $295 million to fund its production and marketing activities, with the remaining $55 million to close within a year. MRC has eight films set to open in the next 12 months. Company also has 10 TV series in production, including four skeins for the CW’s Sunday sked that bow Oct. 5, and five major digital content initiatives, including the ballyhooed “Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy” series of animated shorts from “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane.

“There’s no way you can look at this other than to say that the banks had a lot of confidence in us,” said MRC co-chief exec Asif Satchu. “They voted with their dollars at a time when anyone would have understood if they hadn’t.”

Satchu said MRC pushed to get the credit facility inked, even at this rocky moment, because of the urgency in the financial markets and MRC’s needs. He said none of the 10 banks with which they began negotiations last month dropped out.

MRC was founded in 2003 with equity capital from investors including Goldman Sachs, AT&T and ad giant WPP. In recent years it had gone to the credit markets for one-off financing deals on a project-by-project basis. But as its film and TV expanded rapidly during the past year, it became clear that MRC needed a broader and more flexible line of credit, Satchu said.

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