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Newen debuts €50m UK drama fund

Scripted-logo-460_2Malika AbdellaouiFrance’s Newen Group has created a €50 million (US$54.8 million) drama investment fund.

TF1 Group-owned Newen will seek to invest in high-end scripted series from the UK to build up its portfolio of English-language content through sales arm Newen Distribution.

To support the plan Newen has created an advisory board that includes veteran UK TV execs Nadine Nohr (formerly CEO of Shine International) and Rod Henwood (ex-Zodiak UK chief exec). Newen CEO and chairman Fabrice Larue and financiers Christian Schlumberger and Antoine Dresch complete the line up.

The move opens up another avenue of finance for the UK’s drama prodcos, coming soon after Barclays Bank announced a £100 million (US$130 million) pot for SVOD production.

The news comes soon after Newen moved Julien Leroux to London to lead a UK office as executive VP of sales and coproductions.

He will work closely with Newen Distribution managing director Malika Abdellaoui (pictured) to identify three or four “outstanding” dramas, which could be limited or returning series, and that have international potential. Newen will offer producers early access to presales in major European territories.

“We all know the challenges distributors face in funding drama in the UK market,” said Abdellaoui. “We believe that it is the perfect time to be proactive in the UK, offering producers cash at an early stage, rapid decision-making and privileged access to major continental European markets, as well as our strong worldwide trading relationships.”

She added that Newen was “ready to take risks, and thanks to its own production pipeline, can offer far more than just investment”, and told TBI she would also seek to bring French projects into the UK.

Newen expects to announce its first project within the next few months.

The company, which owns a number of French prodcos and Dutch firm Tuvalu Media, counts Canal+ English-language drama Versailles and upcoming Netflix series Osmosis among its credits. Subsidiary Capa Drama is attached to both shows.

Newen has a catalogue of around 5,000 hours, and from that sold cop series Spiral to the BBC in the UK and Netflix in the US back in 2011, before non-English-language drama regularly sold into those territories.

The company’s management, led by Larue, sold a 70% stake in the business to French commercial broadcaster TF1 more than a year ago.