Howard Kennedy pioneers UK software financing structure

Howard Kennedy has acted on what is believed to be the first UK loan facility for the software industry to base its structure on that used for film financing.

Howard Kennedy’s client Bank Leumi has provided a £ loan facility to computer games company Infogrames, which will be used to develop two new games. But the facility’s structure has been taken from the traditional methods used to finance films. And although the US has witnessed this type of deal on one occasion, this is the first of its kind in the UK.

Head of media and entertainment at Howard Kennedy Brian Eagles says: “The repayment of the sums advanced is not dependent upon receipts from the commercial release of the games. Rather, it arises upon the delivery of the games to the publishers.

“The financing structure was similar to that used by the bank for the financing of films, where a producer has to obtain a completion bond guaranteeing delivery of the film to the distributor.”

He adds that a completion bond was obtained which covered the delivery of the games to the publisher.

The unique structure was developed by Bank Leumi’s head of media Rob Sherr. He had been approached by several software companies which required funding for project development.

“We regularly fund both films and video games, and this is a hybrid of both,” says Sherr. “The structure allows the bank to lay off the performance risk, and up until now this has only ever been used in the US.”

The legal work involved also broke new ground. Eagles says: “The documentation was developed slowly and carefully to ensure that it worked for the bank, the completion guarantor and also for the borrower.”

Eagles believes other computer games companies will be keen to use such a facility. He says the firm is already being approached on the back of the deal, adding: “It could be the start of quite a lot of work.”

Head of banking Nigel Emerson also worked on the deal with two assistants. Osborne Clarke acted for Infogrames, with partner Paul Gardner leading the team.

Bank Leumi (UK), which is part of the Bank Leumi Group, is a long-term client of Eagles, who joined Howard Kennedy from Hammond Suddards Edge in September 1999.