Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner's United Artists have secured the awaited $500m slate financing deal through Merrill Lynch.

The financing from investors in Europe, Asia, Africa and the US was expected but it comes against the background of financial turmoil in global markets which has threatened some deals.

Yesterday Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank reportedly withdrew their commitment to underwrite UA parent company MGM's $1bn slate deal in the wake of the global credit slump.

Specific details of the deal have not been disclosed but the Merrill Lynch fund will begin immediately with finance for two films - Robert Redford's Lions For Lambs and Bryan Singer's Valkyrie.

The studio expects to release four to six films a year.

'The closing of this financing is an important milestone for the new United Artists,' said UA chief executive Wagner. 'It leaves us perfectly poised to realise our vision of making movies that are both important and commercial.