DreamWorks Studios and Reliance Big Entertainment have closed the first phase of funding and announced a further $325m syndicated by J P Morgan Chase that Reliance will match in equity.

Disney, which will handle marketing and distribution on the company’s slate, said it would extend a loan to DreamWorks as part of the distribution deal. It will release approximately six live-action films a year for the company worldwide excluding India, where Reliance Big Entertainment retains rights. The first release under Disney’s Touchstone label is expected in 2010.

J P Morgan led the first wave of debt financing and corralled such participants as Bank Of America, City National Bank, Wells Fargo, Comerica, Union Bank Of California, SunTrust, California Bank & Trust, and Israel Discount Bank.

In a statement Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider, the DreamWorks principals alongside Anil Ambani and Amitahb Jhunjhunwala, said, “This will allow us to move ahead quickly into production with our first group of films. We wish to thank Anil personally for his foresight and fortitude over the past months.

“We congratulate J P Morgan for their leadership in attracting this funding during today’s most challenging financial environment. Our thanks also to our distribution partner Disney who we look forward to working with in getting our movies out to the global audience.”

Ambani, chairman of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, the parent company of Reliance Big Entertainment and Reliance BIG Pictures, said: “Our partnership with Stacey and Steven is the cornerstone of our Hollywood strategy as we grow our film interests across the globe.

“Given our faith in the business plan that they presented to us and despite the current economic climate, we were always confident that this day would come. Now Stacey and Steven can focus on producing more of the great films for which they are renowned.”

Joining Snider and Spielberg on DreamWorks’ board of directors on behalf of the Reliance ADA Group are Jhunjhunwala, vice-chairman, Reliance Capital, and J P  Morgan’s Alan J Levine.

Levine of J P Morgan Entertainment Advisors led the Reliance team in structuring the capital and business plan for the company. Schuyler Moore at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan was Reliance’s counsel.

DreamWorks was advised by Skip Brittenham at Ziffren Brittenham LLP, Bruce Ramer and Harold Brown at Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore. John Miller and David Shaheen at J P Morgan Securities led the senior debt syndication.