Magnet enters the field for films

Regent, Aquitaine in fund for Asian private equity

Los Angeles-based Regent MB and Hong Kong/Singapore-based Aquitaine Investment Advisors are launching the Magnet Media Asia Fund to finance film projects from Asian investors.

Aquitaine plans to raise $25 million in private-equity financing for Magnet, which launches Jan. 1. The majority of the funding will be used to co-finance commercial projects from filmmakers around the world, set to be released on at least 1,000 screens in the U.S. Regent MB will invest a maximum of 25% in equity per film.

A portion of the Magnet fund will be invested in Asian technology companies developing new products, including mobile content and digital screening systems.

"Asian investors believe in the combination of investment in new-media technology in Asia and Hollywood product," Aquitaine group managing director Marlene Wittman said. "They believe this is a strong formula for proper risk diversification and high returns."

Magnet is divided into two sections: a liquid film financing portfolio and a longer investment horizon private-equity fund. The financing, production, distribution and sales entity Regent MB manages the former, and the investment advisory firm Aquitaine manages the latter.

"As the financing structures for films are changing daily, we believe that equity financing is a much-needed instrument to producers with strong track records to complete the financing of their films," Regent MB co-president Jeanette Buerling said. "We want to provide those producers with that option."

Strategic advisers on Magnet's investment committee include Chris Deering, former chairman of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe; Toshio Furusawa, former 20th Century Fox Japan marketing director; Gordon Radley, former LucasFilm president; and Scott Neeson, former marketing head at Columbia TriStar Film Distributors International.

Buerling and co-president Maggie Monteith are in discussions with top filmmakers from Japan, China and India to develop projects to that aim for maximum commercial appeal.

"Asia has long provided us with inspiration and will now provide us with the wherewithal to make films that engage audiences worldwide," Monteith said.

Regent MB this year signed a two-year, first-look deal with Regent Entertainment to submit theatrical projects for Regent Entertainment to fully finance. Regent Entertainment would handle domestic distribution on the projects, with Regent MB acquiring international rights. Regent MB is co-owned by Buerling and Monteith.

Aquitaine is an investment management firm specializing in alternative investments targeted to Asia and Japan on behalf of institutional investors.