London -- The rollout of digital cinema to exhibitors across Europe received a significant boost today with the announcement that Arts Alliance Media Ltd, Europe's leading digital cinema company, has reached an agreement to secure €50m in funding for its initiative.
Funds advised by Sankaty Advisors, LLC, the credit affiliate of Bain Capital LLC, have agreed to provide funding to support the rollout over the next two years, subject to final documentation. The deal is expected to close in 30 days.
Sankaty Advisors, which currently manages approximately $20 billion in committed capital, will provide a combination of senior and mezzanine debt for deployment of digital cinema equipment into cinemas across Europe.
There are currently about 4,500 digital cinema screens in Europe (approximately 75% of which are 3-D), and that figure is expected to rise rapidly to almost 13,000 by the end of 2012. Arts Alliance Media currently has digital cinema deals in place in seven territories within Europe, and commitments in place for over 1,500 screens which are currently in the process of being installed.
"The financial crisis of the past year slowed the process of digital cinema conversion, but the recent announcement by DCIP in the US, and now this announcement for Europe, illustrates that the rollout is now ready to move full speed ahead," said Howard Kiedaisch, Chief Executive Officer of Arts Alliance Media. "Sankaty Advisors are very forward thinking and have created an extremely flexible model that we are looking forward to offering to our exhibition partners. The many exhibitors we're already working with are delighted with the results digital brings - better presentations, 3-D and alternative content are great for audiences and cinemas alike."
"The announcement of this deal is a huge vote of confidence in Arts Alliance Media and the whole European digital cinema industry," stated Patrick Foley, CFO of Arts Alliance Media. "As part of this agreement, we will create a very solid but expandable financial structure that will allow us to significantly scale up our capital raise over time. We are confident this financing will allow us to continue leading the industry in Europe by adding more cinemas to our network."
Arts Alliance Media's goal is to build Europe's largest digital cinema network. All screens installed by Arts Alliance Media are DCI compliant, and the company's strategic partnership with Arqiva Satellite & Media allows exhibitors to benefit from satellite delivery of alternative content events and features, as well.