Longtime French producer Philippe Rousselet has formed Vendome Pictures to develop, produce and finance roughly 15 features over the next five years in the $10-40m range.

Vendome is backed by a $115m revolving credit facility funded by a consortium of banks led by CIT and RBS Greenwich Capital, a mezzanine facility funded by Newbridge Film Capital, and a group of private equity investors from the US and Europe including StudioCanal and Vendome Investments, a jointly owned vehicle owned by Rousselet and French TV host and Endemol France co-founder Arthur Essebag.

The venture has appointed Summit International as the international sales agent excluding the UK, where titles will be handled through StudioCanal's Optimum. CEO and president Rousselet and co-CEO Fabrice Gianfermi have
aim to make broad entertainment with global appeal. The deal promises a timely supply line to Summit Entertainment, who will be the primary North American distributors, with the possibility of other domestic distributors coming aboard on certain titles.

The first projects are expected to be announced shortly, possibly at AFM, and Rousselet said he hoped to be in business with the best film-makers and talent from around the world. Vendome's financial resources will certainly make it an attractive proposition in the current climate of cash-strapped production and financing entities. 'Because of my European origins and the love of cinema this has imparted on to me, I believe Vendome presents a unique opportunity to create a new home for filmmaking talent to make commercial movies with a strong universal flavor and appeal,' said Rousselet, a former Warner Bros production executive and producer of Lord Of War.

The deal took at least 18 months to put together and suffered a late setback in recent months when certain equity investors pulled out due to the worsening US financial crisis. The primary lenders, Rousselet said, stayed the course. 'CIT and RBS and all of the other lenders in the syndicate have been there since Day One. They have never considered going away and we're very lucky to have them as our partners as well as Summit and StudioCanal and everybody involved in this structure.'

'Philippe is a very talented producer with great commercial taste who is proven to understand the world market very well,' Summit Entertainment co-chairman and Summit International CEO Patrick Wachsberger said. 'We are excited and confident that Vendome will provide Summit with wide release films for our domestic slate for the years to come. We are looking forward to announcing and selling to international distributors Vendome's upcoming productions in the months to come.'

StudioCanal chairman Olivier Courson said: 'Philippe Rousselet has been a producer and friend of StudioCanal for years. We are very happy to partner now with him to launch Vendome. As Philippe has shown with films like Lord Of War, he can deliver quality films, with great commercial potential and at a reasonable budget. We share a love of the same type of films and StudioCanal and Optimum look forward to distributing Vendome's slate in the UK.'

'Vendome had a sound business plan, quality management and stellar business partners, all of which really resonated with lenders and investors,' CIT Communications, Media & Entertainment managing director Wade Layton added.

'We couldn't have created a tougher capital markets environment in which to get a deal done if we had tried. However, the fact that we were able to persevere is a real testament to the fortitude of Vendome and all of its financial partners,' RBS managing director Scott Webster said.

Vendome's executive management team includes CFO Kathleen Amundson, a former CFO of New Rgency and Paramount-based Mutual Film Company, and production president Jeb Brody, a former Universal-based producer who helped launch Little Miss Sunshine producers Big Beach.

Rick Hess, the head of CAA's Film Finance Group, served as a close advisor in the arrangement. Stephen Scharf of O'Melveny & Myers represented Vendome, Skip Stern at Sidley Austin represented CIT and RBS Greenwich Capital and Susan Williams at Loeb & Loeb represented Newbridge Films Capital.