THE DEALMAKER: As chief exec of the Abu Dhabi Media Co., Ed Borgerding could find himself a very popular man among beleaguered indie film execs, particularly after the company announced earlier this month it was launching production arm Imagenation Abu Dhabi with a fund of $1 billion.
This was followed by the unveiling of a $250 million pact with Participant Media to produce up to 18 films over the next five years.
While not as expansive as the multibillion-dollar multimedia pact Abu Dhabi execs inked with Warner Bros. last year, in some ways the Participant deal is an even more shrewd one for the oil-rich emirate.
With the U.S. economy reeling from the credit crunch and Wall Street retreating, the Middle East has emerged as a potential source of coin for the film biz.
Rather than simply investing in safe studio fare, however, Abu Dhabi’s choice to go with the socially conscious Jeff Skoll’s Participant gains it some instant critical credibility and should go some way to assuage fears that Middle East investors would avoid edgy, political fare.
It’s a testament to Borgerding, a former Disney exec VP, that he has navigated a potential minefield of cultural sensibilities and convince Abu Dhabi execs to invest in the likes of Participant.
“The key to this company is sustainability,” says Borgerding. “With Imagenation we’re looking to build a company that is going to invest in a lot of movies and become one of the more important content creators around.”
DEALMAKER DOS: “Listen. Understand your leverage. Close.”
DEALMAKER DON’TS: “Talk too much. Be greedy. Underestimate and disrespect your counterpart.”
TOP DEALMAKERS ENCOUNTERED: “Heather, Emma and Anna — my wife and two daughters — regularly achieve supernormal results in negotiations with me!”