European Film Group Wild Bunch Secures $40 Million Credit Line

Courtesy of SRAB Films/Rectangle Productions/Lyly films
Wild Bunch helped produce and release Ladj Ly's Oscar-nominee 'Les Miserables'

Germany's Commerzbank has put up the financing, which will allow the firm to refinance its existing debt and get some much-needed liquidity.

Wild Bunch, one of Europe's leading indie production and distribution companies, has secured a much-needed line of credit that should help the company's efforts to restructure its debt.

On Wednesday, Wild Bunch unveiled a loan financing agreement with Germany's Commerzbank for up to €35 million ($39.8 million). The line of credit is due in October 2022. Wild Bunch, famed as the purveyor of such award-winning international titles as Blue Is the Warmest Color, March of the Penguins, Spirited Away and The Artist, plans to use the cash to refinance an existing bank loan, with the rest serving to boost its liquidity for strategic moves.

Wild Bunch president Vincent Grimond said he was "delighted with the confidence shown in us by Commerzbank as one of the largest film and media financiers in Europe – a financial partner of choice for the future."

Wild Bunch's future has looked uncertain since at least 2017. The storied group — known as much for keen taste in films as for an often flamboyant style and legendary film festival parties — was a high flyer in the past decade and a half, rapidly expanding and gobbling up operations in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

But high levels of debt and shifts in the indie film market hit the company hard. For the last few years, Wild Bunch has been trying to restructure and reorganize by simplifying its structure and recapitalizing. In 2018, it sealed a key $130 million restructuring plan with its creditors.

Through it all, the group never lost its eye for movies, with successes from Cannes last year including Ladj Ly's Les Miserables — a best international feature nominee at the 2020 Oscars, which swept France's Cesar awards — and Kantemir Balagov's Un Certain Regard winner Beanpole.

Wednesday's loan agreement is good news for Wild Bunch as it prepares for the Cannes Market, the online-only industry event that will run June 22-June26, where the group will be shopping new projects, including the Studio Ghibli animated feature Aya and the Witch and genre title The Swarm.