Former Disney CEO Eisner back in moviemaking with Universal

Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:01pm EST
 

By Peter Lauria

(Reuters) - Former Walt Disney Co Chief Executive Michael Eisner has struck a distribution deal with Universal Pictures, a likely prelude to the media mogul raising money to fund film development.

Terms of the multi-year deal call for Universal, owned by cable giant Comcast Corp, to market and distribute movies developed and financed by Eisner under the auspices of his privately owned media holding company Tornante Co, Eisner said.

In a phone interview with Reuters from Los Angeles, Eisner was cagey about precisely how he planned to finance the movies.

Rumors began circulating first in Variety in January and then on CNBC in May about Eisner trying to raise an $800 million film fund, broken out into $400 million of equity and $400 million of debt.

Eisner declined to give specific details on any fundraising efforts that may be taking place.

Eisner said he will be investing his own money into development and plans to bring partners into the venture. He said JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Blackstone Group LP and Moelis & Co were working with him on behalf of the venture.

"Obviously, I wouldn't be making a distribution deal if I wasn't confident that the films would be financed," he said.

Despite having spent more than two decades at the helm of Disney, Eisner said he did not have any discussions with the company regarding this deal and described Universal as a "natural fit."   Continued...

 
Michael Eisner arrives at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences 21st annual Hall of Fame Gala in Beverly Hills March 1, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser