Continental moves into Europe

Financial giant opens Paris office

PARIS — In a sign that pastures may be greener for film financing companies in Europe than the U.S., New York and L.A.-based financing and investment company Continental Entertainment Capital has launched a European operation, CEC Europe.

Yann Le Quellec, a former co-founder of Wild Bunch subsid EWB Finance, will head CEC Europe as its managing director, reporting to CEC prexy-CEO Benjamin Waisbren.

CEC, a Citi Group affiliate, has committed over $400 million in films financing since its launch last April.

Deals include finance for The Weinstein Co. and big single films such as Frank Miller’s upcoming “The Spirit” and U.S.-Korean co-production, “The Laundry Warrior.”

CEC made waves in September when it inked a reported $150 million deal with France’s Wild Bunch, creating a joint co-production and acquisition entity, Continental Films. At the same time, CEC also took minority equity in Wild Bunch.

Le Quellec helped negotiate the deal for Wild Bunch.

CEC Europe is able to provide debt financing, corporate investment, or joint dedicated fund investment, Le Quellec said.

Financing may either be backed by Citi or syndicated out to other financial institutions, Le Quellec added.

CEC Europe is interested “in production and distribution companies, both Europe’s mini-majors and smaller independent companies,” said Le Quellec.

Waisbren said that CEC was “looking at Europe as an opportunity” at the Berlin Film Festival in February. In the U.S., indie films have difficulty reaching the market, he said.

Europe, by contrast, carries lower P&A costs, audiences have different priorities and TV deals are richer, Waisbren added. “Europe also has soft money,” Le Quellec said.

CEC will also invest in TV and other media companies, Le Quellec said.

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