Insomnia gets Egypt fund jolt

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In the latest capital infusion from the Middle East into an entertainment company, Insomnia Media Group has received a $550 million investment from Egypt-based asset management and brokerage firm Borak Holding.

The newly established Borak Media 7 Entertainment Fund will allow Insomnia to fund additional in-house movie projects, purchase film libraries and look to make strategic acquisitions of talent and entertainment management firms, the companies said Tuesday.

Insomnia and Borak said they already are collaborating on an untitled $70 million war epic being shot in Egypt, Morocco and Los Angeles.

Under the terms of the cash infusion, the Insomnia team retains majority control of the firm and decides the use of funds, with Borak serving as a capital partner.

Bret Saxon and Jeff Bowler founded Insomnia in 1994. The firm says it is the only independent production outfit with its own permanent studio on the Universal Studios lot.

Among other things, Insomnia produces TV programming for Fox TV Studios and finances feature films like the upcoming "The Grand," starring Woody Harrelson, Ray Romano and Cheryl Hines. It also manages such talent as Luke Goss, Rachel Miner and Taryn Manning after acquiring the Syndicate in 2006.

Gulf-region investors have been doing healthy business with Hollywood players of late as private-equity money flow into the entertainment sector has dried up amid the global credit crunch.

On Monday, an arm of Dubai International Capital took a sizable stake in Sony Corp. (HR 11/27). In addition, Time Warner's Warner Bros. Entertainment recently unveiled an alliance with Abu Dhabi that includes a $500 million feature film fund (HR 9/27).

Beyond film, Borak founder and chairman Ayman Kandeel and Insomnia chairman Saxon have worked together on real estate and energy investments in the Middle East and the U.S.

"This investment will allow Insomnia Media to continue its rapid growth and to find new and exciting projects to develop and bring to market," Saxon said. "With Borak serving as the ideal partner, we are well positioned to develop our current properties as well as strategically expand into new ventures."

Borak co-founder and vp investor relations Mohamed Farahat said Middle Eastern investors have expressed strong interest in the new fund. "The entertainment industry, and specifically movie production, is a rapidly growing industry in the Middle East," he said.
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