Natixis Coficine, Gate Media Tie Knot (EXCLUSIVE)

Move part of a revolution in Spanish film financing

MADRID — It’s official. Paris bank Natixis Coficine, Europe’s biggest film lender, and Xavier Parache’s Gate Media, a Barcelona-based film finance consultancy and packager, have pacted for Gate Media to represent Natixis Coficine in Spain and Latin America, excluding Brazil.

Natixis has already built a select client-base in Spain, offering credit facilities to cash-flow their productions. Among customers are Morena Films, one of Spain’s biggest film production houses, and Filmax, whose “REC 4” and second season of “The Red Band Society” are being bankrolled by Natixis Coficine.

The Gate Media deal looks set to consolidate Coficine’s position as a key film financier in a liquidity-parched country, where credit, especially for its film industry, is now manna from heaven, creating new opportunities for Natixis Coficine, but also the need for a dedicated agent in Spain.

For Spain’s film industry, Gate Media will remain highly selective, said Natixis Coficine director Christophe Vidal: “We’re sticking to our policy, cherry-picking. We have to be selective: We can’t absorb everything. But we’re open to any high-quality-project, either film or TV.”

But Natixis’ greater involvement in Spain also forms part of a gathering revolution in the way films, or indeed many other products, get financed in the crisis-strapped country.

For centuries in Spain, stymieing the growth of an entrepreneurial middle class, banks have lent against the personal assets of a client, principally the value of his home and lands. That practice was transferred to the film industry.

In contrast, rolling off its specialist knowledge of the film sector, Natixis Coficine’s lending practice is project-based: Assessing and spreading risk on movie-projects, Natixis Coficine discounts packages of financing sources: State subsidies, TV contracts and international sales.

“Natixis Coficine doesn’t ask for personal credit or housing as guarantees for clients to access credit. The guarantees are a film or TV project’s contracts or state aid, which we discount, and a detailed analysis of the project, its financing sources and the company behind it,” said Gate Media founder Parache.

In the wake of Spain’s building bubble, “given real estate’s loss of value in Spain as credit collateral, some Spanish banks are even asking about the possibility of syndicating credit facilities with us for project financing,” Parache added.

Gate Media is also looking to extend Natixis Coficine credit facilities to companies in Spain’s TV and animation industries, Parache said. It has recently closed a credit agreement with Bambu for TV series “Gran Reserva” and has initiated financing talks with Barcelona toon producer-sales company Imira Ent.

Per Vidal, Natixis Coficine is also under due diligence from Spain’s Instituto de Credito Oficial (ICO) a state-owned bank, to adhere to ICO’s newly-renewed agreement with the ICAA Spanish Film Institute.

Incorporation into the agreement would allow Natixis Coficine, aided by ICAA subsidy, to lend at preferential, low-interest rates on a par with Spanish bank-members also part of the agreement. It would also minimize risk when discounting ICAA subsidies.

For Parache, a first-step in Natixis’ entry into Spanish-speaking Latin America could be its provision of credit lines for select Spanish-Latin American co-productions.

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