World War Z

CEO: Vfx studio is looking to buy companies, not sell

Visual effects and 3D conversion company Prime Focus World has secured some $53 million in additional equity investment and is not for sale, its CEO said Friday.

Indiatimes.com had reported that India-based Prime Focus Ltd. had appointed Macquarie Captial to find buyers for Prime Focus World, but CEO and founder Namit Malhotra said the report is wrong. “We raised this capital for Prime Focus to be able to build itself up further and actually look for acquisitions. We’re looking to buy companies, not sell,” adding that Macquaire had been asked to provide advisory services on the equity investment.

This latest round of investment will come from Macquarie Capital in two stages: $38 million in the first phase and $15 million in the second. The cash infusion comes following a $10 million investment from China’s AID Partners Capital in March and a $70 million investment from Standard Chartered Private Equity.

“There’s a view of the world that the vfx industry is defunct and doesn’t work and no financial group in the world is interested in putting money in it,” said Malhotra. “And I think what we are presenting is quite the opposite. What we believe is there is good opportunity if you have the right business model, financial partners and strategic players on board to boost this industry to be operating on a more globalized basis.”

Prime Focus was an aggressive bidder for bankrupt Rhythm & Hues earlier this year but was outbid by Prana Animation. Prime Focus’s recent credits include “World War Z” (pictured), “White House Down” and “The Great Gatsby.”

Prime Focus World’s leadership and creative centers are in Vancouver and London, with headquarters in Los Angeles and support services in India. The company also recently announced it is setting up a production hub in China. Malhotra said the new China facility will serve both domestic Chinese and Hollywood productions. “The joint venture we just announced gives us the ability to take the entire bouquet of services we provide to the Chinese market,” said Malhotra. “We should be able to provide complete services from China depending on which way projects actually flow.”

Malhotra said following Prime Focus’s investment in Vancouver, it has had no plans to open a facility in Montreal to take advantage of the increased incentives there, but “it’s not off the radar.” As for the call for greater California tax incentives for post, he said, “I would obviously welcome that move, because some of the best talent worldwide is in California. … Clearly the challenges are beyond any specific organization to control, and we certainly would promote that if there was a prospect of that happening.”

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