Luc Besson's EuropaCorp Confirms Rescue Talks With U.S. Investment Group Vine

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Luc Besson

Vine Alternative Investments, one of EuropaCorp's creditors, is eyeing an equity stake in Besson's troubled French production and distribution company.

Luc Besson's struggling studio EuropaCorp on Sunday confirmed it was in rescue talks with one of its creditors, U.S. investment fund Vine Alternative Investments.

It is understood that Vine is looking to take a majority stake in EuropaCorp, producer of Lucy, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and Anna, to save the company from collapse.

Responding to a report in the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche, EuropaCorp said it was speaking to Vine about "a possible equity participation" but that it "cannot give any guarantee that this operation will carry through" with a deal.

The report said Besson preferred Vine to take control of EuropaCorp rather than the French film group Pathé, which had been circling the company.

EuropaCorp has been losing money for years. After a string of hit action franchises —Taxi, Taken, Transporter — Besson bet big, and loss big, on the 2017 mega-budget sci-fi epic Valerian. His most recent action film, Anna, flopped at the U.S. box office, where it has grossed $7.5 million for Lionsgate/Summit. The company does not have any other films currently in production.

Pathé has, since December, been distributing EuropaCorp movies in France. In May, EuropaCorp confirmed it was in talks with several potential buyers, including Pathé.

As of March 31, EuropaCorp’s net debt stood at $181 million. In May, the company was granted a six-month debt waiver to give it time to balance its books. Last month, it posted a $125 million loss for the 2018-2019 financial year,

New York-based Vine, which bought a controlling interest in Village Roadshow in 2017, is one of EuropaCorp's major creditors. The deal on the table would reportedly see Vine convert Europa’s debt into equity shares in the company.

Besson and his holding company FrontLine own 38 percent of EuropaCorp, with Chinese investor Fundamental Films holding 28 percent.

EuropaCorp did not provide any further details of a possible deal with Vine.

See EuropaCorp's full statement below.

Following the article published today in Le Journal du Dimanche, the Company confirms, as it did on 29 May 2019, to be in discussions with several financial partners, including the group Vine, as part of the restructuring of its debt and the strengthening of its financial capacity.

As mentioned in this article, Vine has expressed interest in a potential stake in the capital of the Company. Discussions are currently ongoing concerning the terms and conditions of this potential operation and the financing of the Group for the future.

The potential realization of this operation implies in particular the search of an agreement with the senior lenders and the presentation of a Safeguard Plan to the Commercial Court of Bobigny. Therefore the Group cannot assure that this operation will come to a successful conclusion, nor give any precision on the schedule or structuring of the potential transaction resulting from the current discussions.

The Company will inform the market, in due time, of the outcome of the current negotiations.