Former Disney topper looking to raise $400 mil

Michael Eisner is raising coin to build a production fund, and he’s putting in some of his own capital to get it started.

The former Disney topper is seeking to raise about $400 million of equity from private investment groups, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. But Eisner will also put in a significant amount of his own money on top of that. He’s retained JP Morgan to help him put together a $500 million debt facility after he assembles the $400 million.

But besides raising the cash, sources tell Variety that Eisner is also talking to several studios about putting a distribution pact in place — something he’ll need to help entice investors. But given his professional pedigree, insiders don’t expect the former Mouse House boss to have much trouble.

As equity has become harder to come by in the wake of the financial crisis, deals of this size have been tougher to pull off. Observers in the banking and legal community caution that a deal like Eisner’s could take months to complete.

Eisner has stayed active in the production business since exiting the Mouse House in 2005. In 2009, his Tornante Co. cut a deal with Canadian media conglom Rogers Communications to help fund the production of made-for-Internet programming through his Vuguru production shingle.

Tornante and Rogers also produce the Nickelodeon animated comedy series “Glenn Martin DDS.”

“The Tornante Company is involved in many different projects and is always assessing new opportunities,” said a spokesman for Eisner, who would not confirm whether Eisner is raising the coin.

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