Abu Dhabi takes fortunes to Hollywood
By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York and Simeon Kerr in Dubai
Published: September 2 2008 23:31 | Last updated: September 3 2008 14:48
Fresh from buying into English Premier League football, Abu Dhabi has its eye on another trophy.
The emirate on Wednesday set out plans to become one of the world’s largest film producers, with $1bn to invest in productions to be made in Hollywood, Bollywood and beyond.
Editorial comment: Abu Dhabi County - Sep-02Abu Dhabi investors buy Manchester City - Sep-02Man City deal is Abu Dhabi United’s goal - Sep-02Mubadala to name US acquisitions - Aug-05Abu Dhabi set to exploit gas from Shah field - Jul-08Abu Dhabi looks to Sudan to secure food supply - Jun-04The funding, provided by Abu Dhabi’s government, will allow the Gulf state to back up to eight films a year over the next five years, Edward Borgerding, chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Media Company told the Financial Times.
ADMC has set up a company, called imagenation abu dhabi, to manage its film investments.
Confirming a report in the Financial Times, the new company on Wednesday said in a statement: “Our target output of eight films every year will make imagenation abu dhabi one of the world’s top producers of feature films and establish Abu Dhabi as a leading centre for content creation.”
Some Hollywood studios are struggling to replace the funds that rushed in from private equity and hedge funds in recent years. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer last month hired Goldman Sachs to “explore enhancements” to its long-term capital structure, amid reports Merrill Lynch was wavering in its commitment to finance MGM’s United Artists studio.
Abu Dhabi is seeking to usurp Dubai as the region’s leading media hub. The Islamic state remains wary of some western content, however, only agreeing to show edited versions of Syriana, the George Clooney film, because it feared that it would show the Gulf in a negative light.
Mr Borgerding, a former Walt Disney executive, said the first co-production partnerships would be announced within weeks. He would not comment on which Hollywood studios ADMC would work with, but highlighted its link with Warner Bros for video games development. It was also looking to work with film-makers in India, the UK and around the Middle East.
Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment has spent £200m ($357m) to buy Manchester City football club. Abu Dhabi’s state investment funds have taken stakes in Ferrari, GE, Carlyle and Citigroup.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008
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