XDC, Fortis ink d-cinema deal

Financing package to allow first phase of European rollout

In a move that could jump-start digital cinema in Europe, XDC and Fortis Bank have inked an agreement in principle for a 100 million euro ($136.2 million) financing package.

Upon closing, the package will allow the Belgium-based d-cinema service company to complete the first phase of its d-cinema rollout in Europe, representing an estimated 2,000 screens, by early 2009. About 1,000 d-cinema screens currently are deployed in Europe.

XDC already has secured virtual-print-fee deals with Hollywood studios to help fund the deployment. The company is signing up exhibitors to participate in its program.

"This financial support is the missing link, and we're about to get it," said Serge Plasch, CEO and managing director of XDC. "The first step was to finalize the VPF deals with the studios. The second step is the signature of the first contracts with exhibitors and obtaining the support of European distributors, which we have already begun with Cineplexx in Austria."

The package's availability remains subject to satisfactory due diligence and documentation and to the bank's credit-committee approval.

"We worked very closely with Fortis Bank over the last months to design the most appropriate financial structure to the digital-cinema deployment agreements signed with the six Hollywood studios," XDC vp finance and administration Pierre Flamant said. "XDC will now have the adequate financing to execute its ambitious business plan."

XDC, a unit of EVS Broadcast Equipment, aims to deploy 8,000 d-cinema screens in Europe through its VPF deals.
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