U.K.’S FERGUSON TO LEAD CINAR EUROPE

MONTREAL — Canadian family-fare specialist Cinar Films has set-up a new Euro division, Cinar Europe, to be headed by veteran London-based executive David Ferguson.

Cinar president Ron Weinberg told Daily Variety Monday that Ferguson has been named vice president of Cinar Europe and managing director of FilmFair, the British animation production facilities that Cinar acquired for $17 million last fall.

Cinar snatched Ferguson from its chief Canuck rival in the animation biz, Nelvana of Toronto. For the past four years, Ferguson has held the position of London-based director of international co-productions at Nelvana, and he established Nelvana’s U.K. office during his tenure with the company. Prior to his stint with Nelvana, Ferguson was head of international sales for BBC Enterprises, and he has also worked for Thames Television.

The hiring of Ferguson and the opening of a London office will help boost both production and sales in Europe, per Weinberg. Since acquiring FilmFair’s facilities and library of animation product last October, the Montreal-based Cinar has already re-activated the FilmFair production studio, and Cinar is presently working on two series based on well-known FilmFair titles. The shows, in production in London, are ”The Adventures of Paddington Bear” and ”The Wombles,” and Cinar is working closely with the authors of the material, Michael Bond and Elisabeth Beres-ford, respectively.

”Europe has always been our primary co-production partner,” said Weinberg. ”The idea of having staff on the ground in Europe is part of our growth strategy. David will be the person responsible for all of the production and co-production activity and, secondly, he will be heading up Cinar Europe, a sales and production effort to tie-in partners in Europe, whether they’re creative, financial, or broadcast. I think London is a fabulous place in terms of talent and expertise, and we hope to attract some of that key talent in rebuilding the studios (at FilmFair).”

The London office will house Ferguson and three sales staffers. Cinar execs have yet to settle on a location for the office and are currently interviewing applicants for the sales positions.

Until now, Cinar’s main European co-production partners have been French, notably France Animation, but the company expects to step up its British co-production activity with the opening of the London office.

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