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August 1, 2009updated 12 Apr 2017 4:34pm

One to watch – Medialease

The entertainment media industry is volatile, seasonal, highly international and geared towards high-cost, often unique, and rapidly outdated equipment. With the ebb and flow of the business so far removed from the experience of most risk desks, media finance is a potentially nightmarish world

By Fred Crawley

The entertainment media industry is
volatile, seasonal, highly international and geared towards
high-cost, often unique, and rapidly outdated equipment.

With the ebb and flow of the business so far
removed from the experience of most risk desks, media finance is a
potentially nightmarish world. But through a lease broker with the
right contacts and the determination to specialise, a funder can
find its way through the storm to some extremely solid deals.

Medialease, which is run by Paul Robson, is
such an introducer. Robson and colleague Matthew Vaughan founded
the business in 2002 following their experience in the finance
division of film industry supplier, VGF Group.

At the outset they had the intention of
providing comprehensive underwriting information to funders looking
to find safe business in media.

At first, Medialease did around 80 percent of
its business finding finance for editing and post production
equipment in TV and film.

Since the middle of the decade, however, it
has grown larger and larger in the field of live entertainment,
providing finance for several of 2009’s major festivals, as well as
touring shows by U2 and George Michael.

Most of the company’s lessees are short-term
rental companies which take equipment on three to five-year terms
and then provide it for hire to theatres, venues and touring shows,
most of which will need it for a much shorter time.

It also has a number of longstanding
relationships with manufacturers, including Avid, Autodesk and
Euphonix on the post production side of business, and Barco, Digico
and Soundcraft in the live entertainment market.

Slashed budgets in the TV industry (where
post-production teams often come last in the financial pecking
order) saw business drop by around 20 percent to around £12 million
(€14 million) in 2008, but Robson is confident that business for
this year will stay at around the same level.

Additionally, whereas UK funders Lombard and
Barclays have withdrawn from externally sourced media finance, ING
Lease and HSBC Equipment Finance have remained strong funders for
the brokerage.

One major opportunity for the company has been
the establishment of a second office in Salford’s new Media City UK
development – the site represents a £500 million investment for the
BBC, and will see much of the corporation’s departments relocate
there in 2010, along with possible components of Channel 4 and
ITV.

In addition to being a major site for post
production work, the development will include five studios of the
kind used for filming live audience programmes such as Strictly
Come Dancing
, which will provide plenty of potential business
for Medialease in the audio, lighting and display screen
fields.

Altogether, with its new second home in
Salford, 2010 looks like it could be an interesting year for
Medialease.

Fred Crawley

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