Cotter in film funding venture


Colin Cotter and financial services company Citi are forming a full-service film production and finance company called Continental Entertainment Group (CEG).

CEG will consist of two units, Continental Pictures, a global sales company, and Continental Entertainment Capital (CEC), which will provide film distributors, producers and developers with a full suite of financial services.

Cotter co-founded Initial Entertainment Group with Graham King in 1994. While remaining a partner in IEG, he will serve as president and CEO of Continental Pictures and its parent, CEG. Cotter, who will be based in Los Angeles, plans to acquire the rights to 10-12 films during Continental Pictures' first year of operation.

Benjamin Waisbren, who was managing director at Stark Investments, will head CEC as president and CEO out of New York. D. Jeffrey Andrick, previously of Comerica, has joined CEC as managing director and will run its Los Angeles office.

CEC will offer a wide range of financial products, including equity, structured finance, gap loans, mezzanine financing, P&A funding and debt-replacement loans.

Citi is providing Continental Pictures with a revolving credit facility of about $200 million, while CEC will have a fund of about $500 million.

Jamie Viceconte, a managing director in Citi's Global Special Situations Group, will join Cotter and Waisbren on the CEG board.

"This is the first company that has been in a position to fund the whole range of financing possibilities for the entertainment industry as well as provide worldwide distribution services," Cotter said. He added that as far as Continental Pictures is concerned, it is not restricting itself to any particular type of film. "The focus is going to be good, quality movies -- it's not a question of budget or whether they are foreign or domestic," he said.

CEG said it expects to announce several first-look deals with established producers and talent agencies in the near future. The deals could cover everything from individual films to slates of pictures, Cotter said.

The CEG execs will be attending major film and TV marketing events, beginning with next month's Cannes market.

Before joining IEG, Cotter was financial controller of the Cori Group Ltd., a London and Los Angeles-based international distribution company, from 1991-94.

At Stark Investments, Waisbren was involved in several film-related ventures. He was a managing director at Salomon Bros. in New York in the investment banking department.

Andrick joins CEG from XL.ENT Media Group, which specializes in structuring and negotiating capital on behalf of clients. Previously, with Comerica Bank, he helped launch the Entertainment Industries Group, covering corporate and syndicated loan structures, studio-based and independent production financing as well as ancillary business.