Wednesday 19 December 2018

Indian investment to boost Sargent's special effects business Framestore


Colin Farrell in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which featured Framestore’s work, having previously created CGI for Gravity and Avatar
Colin Farrell in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which featured Framestore’s work, having previously created CGI for Gravity and Avatar

John Reynolds

Dubliner William Sargent's London-headquartered TV and movie special effects firm Framestore has acquired a 50pc stake in Anibrain, an Indian counterpart, for €12m as it seeks opportunities to grow outside of the US and Europe.

Anibrain employs 700 people in India and has worked on CGI special effects for productions including Fast and Furious 7 and Guardians of the Galaxy, while its studio is certified for use by giants Disney and Marvel.

The investment was revealed in the latest accounts for Framestore, which has worked recently on the Paddington 2 film and an episode of the latest series of the Netflix sci-fi drama Black Mirror.

The multi award-winning firm, which employs 1,300 people and also worked on the Harry Potter films and the BBC series Walking with Dinosaurs, saw its revenues grow by 20pc last year to €147m, on which it booked a pre-tax profit of €14.7m.

The accounts stated: "Growth in turnover has come through continued growth in the film department in London and Montreal, advertising in LA and expansion into TV projects."

Some €63.5m of turnover came from the UK, with €80m from North America, the accounts added, and the latter figure was up by 50pc on the previous year.

As this newspaper revealed last year, martial arts movie star Jackie Chan became a backer of the Oscar-winning company after a Chinese firm of which he is a director, Ithink Cultural Investment Company, took a majority stake in the business valuing it at about €175m.

It has also emerged that it is developing its own ideas for films, TV, animation, games and virtual reality concepts at an internal incubator called Framestore Ventures.

Some of these, such as 52-episode cartoon Iggy and the Missing Links, are co-productions with other media partners.

Another production, with a US partner, is a crowdfunded psychological horror game based on the film Apocalypse Now. There was also a satirical talk show, Pow, featuring animated characters - including one of Vladimir Putin.

The venture arm also invested in Madefire, a digital comic book app designed to be used with virtual reality headsets. US rapper Drake is also an investor in the app.

Speaking last year, Sargent - a former top civil servant in Britain's Treasury who is understood to retain a stake in Framestore of about 10pc - said he intends to grow the firm through acquisitions, ultimately aiming for a turnover of about €460m. To that end, further ones in addition to the latest investment in Anibrain are expected. "I want to position the company for the next 20 years," he said.

Sunday Indo Business

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