Hollywood has a new investment bank. Solar Entertainment Group, Bobby Paunescu and Jared Underwood’s multi-faceted film financing and production company, has partnered with Hoffman Lloyd to launch a media and entertainment investment bank dubbed Solar Entertainment HLB.
The company will link producers, studios and other entertainment and media companies with eager investors, raising money for new projects, films in particular.
For Solar, the move builds off its launch of Solar Media Capital in November at the American Film Market. That specialty financing entity helps producers finance individual projects while this new bank will help to finance entire films slates and larger deals.
"This partnership complements the product offerings of Solar Media Capital,” Underwood (above) said in a statement. “Through Solar Entertainment HLB, SEG can now offer individual filmmakers, indie film companies, and the mini-major and major studios a full spectrum of financial products ranging from debt to equity, single picture to slate financing, and corporate financing to studio co-financing. Peter, Sasha, and Michael are the best investment bankers in the film industry with unparalleled track records, so Bobby and I couldn't be more pleased to be their partners.”
Sasha is Sasha Lloyd, Peter Hoffman’s co-founder in Hoffmann Lloyd and and another former Goldman alum. She took the lead in advising Summit on its $750 million recapitalization, completed in February 2011.
Michael is Michael Blum, the new chairman of the bank and a former colleague of Lloyd and Hoffmann’s at Merrill Lynch.
Hoffman Lloyd hopes uniting with Solar will help expand its scope and reach. While Hoffman and Lloyd have a wealth of potential investors in the United States, Solar brings a bevy of contacts in Eastern Europe, China and other lucrative overseas markets. It has offices in London, Paris, Bucharest, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan, in addition to Los Angeles and New York.
Paunescu, a principal investor in Solar, is the majority owner of one of the top ten private industrial conglomerates in Central and Eastern Europe. Several other investors in Solar, founded in February, are high net-worth individuals like Edward Lawson Johnston, the founder of London-based LJ Group. That merchant bank has more than $6 billion under management.
Just as film studios now rely on international audiences for a majority of their box office grosses, entertainment companies must also look overseas for more of their financing.
"Through SEG, we gain an international orientation, which positions us to remain at the forefront in organizing and executing the next generation of deals in entertainment finance on behalf of our clients,” Hoffman said in a statement.
Underwood and Hoffman sought one another out after years of working together while at different companies. When Underwood was at Comerica and Hoffman at Goldman, they raised $285 million for The Weinstein Company and also raised money for producer Michael London.
Though the principals expect the majority of their business to be in finding investors for film companies, newer players such as online video production companies could benefit as well.