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Lions Gate lands $200 mil credit line

Lions Gate Entertainment has secured a $200 million revolving credit facility with a syndicate of global financial institutions arranged through Chase Securities and Dresdner Kleinwort Benson.

The financing commitment creates another major source of capital designed to support Lions Gate’s strategic and financial growth initiatives, including the acquisition of Trimark. That transaction is valued at approximately $50 million in cash and Lions Gate stock in addition to the assumption of Trimark’s debt.

The $200 million commitment represents Lions Gate’s first involvement in the global syndicated debt market. Last December, Lions Gate CEO Jon Feltheimer helped orchestrate a $33 million preferred equity financing that included international broadcasters SBS Broadcasting SA and Tele-Munchen, Fidelity Investments, Capital Research and Management Company, and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Ventures.

“This $200 million credit facility from Chase and its partners will be an important component of our strategy to grow the company, highlighted by our recent acquisition of Trimark,” said Feltheimer. “It will increase our available capital, helping to accelerate the expansion of Lions Gate’s motion picture and television production operations and providing further impetus for our strategy of aggregating key entertainment and digital media assets.”

Positive perception

John Miller, managing director of the Entertainment Industries Group of Chase Securities, said Lions Gate received a strong reception in the global syndicated debt market.

“(This) validates its management’s recent strategic initiative to become a diversified content creator and distributor across a broad range of media and markets worldwide,” Miller said. “The combination of Lions Gate and Trimark will accelerate this strategic vision and create future opportunities that should be equally well received by the financial markets.”

Lions Gate CFO Marni Wieshofer and co-chairman Michael Burns were also key in securing the credit line.

Lions Gate’s recently reported fiscal 2000 results showed the first profitable year (excluding the company’s stake in Mandalay Pictures) in its three-year history.

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