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David Linde Closes Funding, First Look Deal With India's Reliance

UPDATED: Tory Metzger and Adam Rymer are named head of production and chief operating officer, respectively.

David Linde is joining forces with India’s Reliance Entertainment to form a new film production and financing company.

Linde, who who was forced to step down as co-chairman of Universal Pictures in October 2009, also has struck a deal with Universal, which will have the first option to co-finance each developed project and distribute the films in the United States and other significant international territories. For films that Universal does not distribute domestically, Linde will produce and distribute through other studios.

“Over the years David has proven himself as an adept builder of content-based companies and Universal has been a beneficiary,” said Universal chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley in a joint statement. “We look forward to being part of his new venture.”

Linde commented, “Universal gave me the time, money and space to form a plan that we all believe in and can execute on. Their contribution has been significant and very much appreciated.”

Linde, who will head the currently unnamed company as CEO, will be joined by Tory Metzger and Adam Rymer as, respectively, head of production and chief operating officer.

Linde established himself in the indie film world before taking on a studio role at Universal. He was one of the founding partners of Good Machine, the international sales and production company, which was sold in 2001 to Universal, where he then headed Focus Features alongside James Schamus. In 2009, Linde moved over to the studio side as Universal co-chairman.

Rymer, wo will oversee all financial operations and day-to-day business matters, was most recently senior vp of digital platforms at Universal, overseeing mobile, gaming, digital cinema, digital distribution and new technology initiatives for the studio. He also served the studio as vp of business development and strategic planning.

Metzger, who most recently served as president of the MRC film gorup,  will oversee creative elements of all projects financed and developed by the company.

“Our company is designed in response to a changing world. We have the opportunity to tap into the global industry’s desire for films while at the same time build a business that offers opportunities to our creative partners by harnessing both traditional means of distribution as well as new technologies, platforms and markets,” Linde said. “Reliance has already proven itself a great partner and we look forward to working with them as we enter this new world.”

The company, which is looking to create a brand that will work in the worldwide market, has set up output deals for all its productions to handle territories that aren’t included in its studio deals. They consist of Entertainment One (eOne) for Canada, the U.K. and Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg); Italia Films for the Middle East, Greece and Turke; Nordisk Film for the Nordic Countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland); Revolutionary Releasing for Eastern Europe (excluding Russia; Sun Distribution for Latin Ameria; and Tele München Group (Germany, Austria along with certain rights in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein).

Reliance, which is providing the capital for the new venture, will handle distribution of the films in India.

Alan J. Levine and Josh Small of Canon Media Partners structured the company’s business plan, arranged for the equity capital, and provided financial and strategic advice to both Linde and Reliance. Levine will join Linde and Reliance Entertainment’s Amitabh Jhunjhunwala on the new company’s board.

Linde was represented by attorneys Harold Brown, Thomas Camp and Ken Garrett of Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown and Reliance by Stephen Scharf and Jordan Lichtman of O’Melveny and Myers. David Boyle provided additional legal services for Linde in negotiating the international distribution output deals.