Toon studio Imagi raises $20 mil

Co. raised $10 million earlier this month

Imagi, the Hong Kong- and Los Angeles-based animation company, has raised a $20 million by issuing new shares. Cash infusion, from a group of U.S. property investors, is in addition to the $10 million raised earlier this month (Daily Variety, Sept. 5).

The two share issues go most of the way toward replacing the two $20 million subscriptions that Imagi had anticipated coming from Singapore investment group Oxley Spring Media in July. This month Imagi said Oxley investment chief Mark Pawley had failed to deliver the coin and Imagi would cancel his deal.

Operating under Mehta-Imagi banner the U.S. investors are paying HK$0.86 per share. That is a premium of 69% to the prevailing market price before the deal. Mehta-Imagi is managed by Chicago-based alternative investment advisers Prescient Advisors, and headed by property and technology mavens Isaac Austin and Tet Yamashita, who is a co-owner of NBA Development League team the Bakersfield Jam, and Silicon Valley investor Nitin Mehta.

After a complicated series of additional transactions and gifts Mehta-Imagi will control 16.8% of the group, Hong Kong property group Shui On group sees its holding boosted to 11% and Imagi’s controlling shareholder Sunni sees its holdings fall from 35.8% to 19.7%.

The cash is needed to finance Imagi’s slate of four CG animation features each with budgets in excess of $30 million. Company is in production on “Astro Boy,” which is sold by Summit Entertainment, and “Gatchaman.” Company recently disclosed that it is in development on “Tusker,” an elephant adventure previously set up at DreamWorks Animation.

“Investors have been visiting our studios to see firsthand the quality and commercial potential of the films Imagi has in production. This investment round marks a major vote of confidence that our films will compete successfully with the best that Hollywood has to offer,” said Douglas Glen, CEO of Imagi.

“Imagi has put together a truly exciting package including world-class filmmakers, superior production economics, and the ability to reach both the traditional Hollywood market and the emerging Asian market. They have a real shot at becoming the next Pixar or DreamWorks Animation,” said Jeff Joseph of Prescient.

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