Founder, Skydance Productions
The son of Oracle founder Larry Ellison secured a whopping $350 million in debt and equity funding this past year to support a slate of four-plus films per year. The financial package included J.P. Morgan Chase as lead lender on a $200 million revolving credit line. Ellison formed Skydance in 2006 to focus on tentpole action, adventure, science fiction, and fantasy films along with modestly budgeted comedy and genre movies. Recently announced Skydance projects include an untitled comedy written by David Caspe starring Charlize Theron with Denver and Delilah Films producing, and “Hyde,” based on the “The Strange Case of Hyde” Dark Horse comic by screenwriter Cole Haddon, to be produced with Mark Gordon and Dark Horse Entertainment.
KEY DEAL: Under the latest financing deal, Paramount will submit a majority of its greenlit films on a first-look basis to Skydance for co-production and co-financing. The studio will have a first look at all of Skydance’s feature film development and provide co-financing and distribution on a number of Skydance-produced films. The Paramount deal includes: J.J. Abrams’ “Misson: Impossible 4,” directed by Brad Bird; an untitled project directed by Jack Bender (“Lost”), starring Chris Pine and produced by Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Mace Neufeld; and “True Grit,” Joel and Ethan Coen’s take on the Charles Portis novel, produced by the Coens, Scott Rudin and Steven Spielberg, and starring Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Jeff Bridges.
SPARE TIME: Flying airplanes and helicopters.
TOP CAUSE: Conservation Intl.
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC
Shaheen heads up J.P. Morgan’s global Entertainment Industries banking group, which structures and arranges financing for film, television, music and exhibition companies. He’s been involved in many significant financing and advisory assignments, including ones for DreamWorks Studios, Shine Group, Village Roadshow Films, Participant Media and Skydance Productions.
The industry continues to go through transition and the financing market hasn’t regained its historical depth, Shaheen acknowledges. “However, despite some of the headwinds in the business,” he says, “the importance of content ownership is undeniable and the financial markets are receptive to properly structured deals for companies with strong management and smart business strategies.”
KEY DEALS: Structured and arranged a $150 million credit facility for Skydance Productions, David Ellison’s newly capitalized production company. Attracted capital from all of the major film lenders to establish a blue-chip senior debt investor base for Skydance. Also led the $1 billion refinancing of Village Roadshow Films, including the largest institutional term loan raised for a film company in years.
SPARE TIME: Soccer, music, landscape architecture
TOP CAUSES: Bogart Foundation and America Scores-LA