U.K. firms more Visible with deal


LONDON -- A triumvirate of U.K. production banners have united in their quest to raise £24 million ($47 million) from investors looking to benefit from an investment vehicle named Visible Films that employs both existing tax breaks and the new-look credit system here.

The trio of companies are the Recorded Picture Co., Ecosse Films and Samuelson Prods. and includes Oscar-winning producer Jeremy Thomas ("The Last Emperor"), producer Douglas Rae ("Mrs. Brown") and Marc Samuelson, whose myriad credits include the recent "Stormbreaker" and "The Libertine."

The group aims to raise the investment cash through a system that takes in the new-look tax credit system installed here by the government Jan. 1 and the well-established 1998 Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Visible Films will give investors the opportunity to pump as much as £8 million ($16 million) into each banner's vehicle for production, but it does not ask them to invest in a slate of titles but instead the pedigree of the producers and companies involved.

Such pedigree is unquestioned, with titles made by the companies' three principals having won or been nominated for 14 Oscars, 11 Golden Globes and 26 BAFTAs.

By launching their own film-investment companies, the producers say they can "offer the public direct investment into their films."

The three new companies will be Visible Films (Ecosse) Plc., Visible Films (RPC) Plc. and Visible Films (Samuelson) Plc. "British films are now not only winning major awards in Hollywood and London but also are huge boxoffice successes. The Visible Films companies offer the opportunity to invest in producers who have made films such as 'Mrs. Brown,' 'The Last Emperor' or 'Wilde,' " Visible Films (Ecosse) producer Robert Bernstein said.

Said Thomas: "One of the attractions of this plan is that investors can be involved in a varied group of films with high aspirations and with risk mitigation from the tax relief available."

Added Samuelson: "Another attraction of investing in our schemes is the fact that investments will be channeled directly into making and distributing films."

The trio now await the rubber stamp go-ahead from financial watchdog the Financial Services Authority, which is expected by Wednesday.