German equity financing for European co-productions


At the turn of the millennium Argo Venture ́s capital markets subsidiary Argo Capital Solutions and then leading global investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Benson jointly structured and raised the Berlin Animation Film (BAF) I equity fund with a total volume of € 84 m.

The multi-tier structured financing transaction was distributed exclusively by Dresdner Bank in 1999 and 2000, structured by its investment arm Dresdner Kleinwort Benson and saw Stefan Beiten and Nikolaus Weil’s film production company Greenlight Media act as ‘general contractor’.

BAF I was devised for off-balance film production and distribution financing and comprised of private equity investments and a government backed funding program: while Dresdner raised € 69 m from more than 1600 private clients, the business development bank of the Federal Land of Berlin (IBB) contributed the remaining € 15 m covered by a 70 % federal state guarantee. The ultimate aim was to establish an integrated production and distribution studio for animated films in Berlin, thus securing and boosting sector-related jobs in the region. Greenlight Media – as executive producer – in co-operation with seven Europe- based co-producers such as ARD and Super RTL as well as several TV partners abroad set out to collaborate on nine animation series.

A year later, in 2001, Kleinwort Benson structured a second private media fund – aptly named BAF II – with a total volume of almost € 130 m.

Beiten and Weil are key figures at both Argo Capital Solutions and the independent, international film production company Greenlight Media. While the former provides financial advisory and structured finance services across a broad range of industries with a special focus on and in-depth expertise in the film production sector, Greenlight is the operative company that handles production and licensing.

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