This is a huge new deal extending the co-financing partnership between Ryan Kavanaugh’s L.A.-based Relativity Media LLC and Universal Pictures for most of the studio’s movies. So the previous cut-off through 2011 is now through 2015. And it follows Relativity just reeling in another $1 billion from NY-based $13B hedge fund Elliott Associates which has doubled its investment in Kavanaugh’s firm. In September, Elliott and Relativity announced Relativity Capital Holdings, which acts as the financing entity for Relativity Media. Since that time the company has built a multi-billion dollar balance sheet and is in the business of financing and acquiring media assets. The investment comes on the heels of the very profitable summer slate of Beverly 2, that partnership between Universal Pictures and Relativity, where Relativity Capital Holdings is co-financing approximately 75% of Universal’s slate through 2011. My sources tell me that, under the new agreement, Relativity will use between $2 billion and $3 billion to cover 75% of Universal’s slate through 2015, or about 18 films per year. Even though Relativity also has financing deals with Sony Pictures, this new fund is exclusive to Universal, insiders say. The first overall agreement with Universal was something of a milestone for Relativity in that it acted as the principal and retained the Mezzanine and Equity as well. Relativity Capital — a wholly owned subsidiary of Relativity and Elliott — underwrote the capital structure of the deal, and did not use an outside bank. Considering that Universal had a good 2008 both in terms of box office gross but also profitability, Relativity obviously is betting big on the studio’s future slates. Meanwhile, it continues to amaze me that Kavanaugh keeps flush in the midst of a world financial crisis.
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