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Greek Entertainment Industry Secures $62.5 Million Loan Guarantee

Thessaloniki Film Festival
The Hellenic Development Bank has introduced a loan guarantee program aimed at enhancing the Greek entertainment industry. Credit: Thessaloniki Film Festival

The Hellenic Development Bank (HDB) has introduced a €62.5 million ($62.48 million) loan guarantee program aimed at enhancing the Greek entertainment industry.

The Audiovisual Productions Portfolio Guarantee Fund was presented by the Audiovisual Producers’ of Greece (SAPOE) at this year’s Thessaloniki Film Festival’s Agora Talks. It is specifically targeted at motion picture, video, and television productions as well as computer game development.

The HDB offers a guarantee rate of eighty percent for low-interest loans between €25,000 and €900,000. These are provided by partner lenders Piraeus Bank and Optima Bank.

The fund adds to the country’s forty percent cash rebate program available for feature films, documentaries, TV drama series, animated films, and digital games.

A tool which finances production companies

Speaking about the fund during the Agora Talks in Thessaloniki, HDB CEO Athina Chatzipetrou said,”It is the tool that finances your company, your company’s investment, based on a business plan, evaluated by the investment committee.”

“You own a company, you are creative, you have your products, but you are also an entrepreneur, so you need to bear in mind that you need to check the basket of financial tools you can use,” Chatzipetrou said. “You have the cash rebate for the product; you can have this product for the investments, which goes directly to your business.”

Chatzipetrou also confirmed that the HDB will be launching an €800 million program, called Growth, aimed at merging companies.

“The basket of financial tools is never empty,” she added. “I also want to ask you to join the HDB platform, Inno Agora, created jointly with the French Development Bank where you will find many other people like you, start-ups, r&d, growth, investors. It is like Facebook for companies and because it is not only addressed to Greece, but to a wider European range, it becomes even more interesting,” she continued.

Chatzipetrou pointed out that in addition to creative businesses, production companies are also financial ones in terms of accounting and lawyers, for instance. This means that apart from cash rebate funding from further sources is required.

“Do not limit yourself to the fact that as a film producer you want to see a product with the label of the film,” Chatzipetrou said. “You may have digital or energy products. Film production is your creativity, the result of your equipment that can be financed by other tools. We should be open-minded.”

Need to secure funding for foreign production filming in Greece

Within the context of the 63rd TIFF’s Agora Talks, a discussion on “The Changing Landscape of Greek Film and TV Financing: Developments, Opportunities and Challenges. What Experience Has Taught Us, and Where We Go Next” took place on Sunday November 6th at MOMus-Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, hosted by the Audiovisual Producers of Greece (SAPOE).

The topic was the constantly expanding field of the financing of Greek producers along with the legal opportunities presented and the prospects for development in the future.

Simos Manganis, head of Green Olive Films, who was a guest speaker at the discussion, stressed the need for a cash-flow certificate to secure bridge financing, particularly for foreign productions shooting in Greece that intend to use the cash rebate.

“We’re creating an ecosystem, [and] we have got the policy, the tools, the film producers, [so] we are just missing that part of the creation chain, of this simple, sustainable dynamic,” Manganis said.

Leonidas Christopoulos, general secretary at the Greek Ministry of Digital Governance, agreed with Manganis, assuring that there would be discussions on making a cash-flow certificate possible.

Christopoulos stressed that the cash rebate had the strong support of the Greek government.

“We want the cash rebate scheme to continue and that is why we have succeeded in extracting another €200 million, mainly from European funds, already having secured the €75 million of the national budget,” he said. “At the same time, we will continue to concentrate on simplifying the regulatory framework, for there will always be a need for update.”

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