Trade Finance Loan Helps Berkshire Business Progress Feature Film Ambitions

Reading based Ex Cantibus Gaudium (ECG), is the first company to receive a short term trade finance loan from the Thames Valley Berkshire (TVB) Funding Escalator.

This TVB Loan Scheme is an innovative addition to the suite of schemes available to SMEs in Berkshire. It is funded by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and is available to Berkshire businesses when they have a need for short term trade funding to deliver confirmed orders and contracts. The funding can be used to address issues such as irregular invoicing patterns, a working capital shortfall and upfront pre shipment costs and commitments.

ECG’s original core business is music composition and production for TV, film and commercials. Credits include Thomas and Friends – the biggest TV children’s property in the world. However, for the past five years it has developed an animation concept, ‘Shudan’, based on the Chinese zodiac. With a significant amount of time spent in China, production of the first feature film for the Chinese and global market has now begun and is due for release in early 2018. With an impressive creative team that includes The Simpsons producer, Bill Schultz, it is will be the first production of it’s kind that crosses the difficult barrier – creating something that works in China and the rest of the world

Box office revenue in China is now on a par with the USA Coupled with TV sales, merchandising and, particularly, online gaming, it has proved an attractive proposition to Chinese investors.

ECG has received two previous TVB expansion loans in 2013 and 2015, which allowed the company to firstly explore the Chinese market and subsequently significantly develop the project, producing a pilot episode and associated trailers. Things are progressing well and the company now needs short term funding to cover pre-production costs for two animated feature films and a TV series.

Robert Hartshorne, ECG owner, explains: “Shudan has been very well received and we have secured three Chinese investors to fund the £16m project. However, it is essential that we keep things moving towards production whilst waiting for the first round of investment to be released. Once again the TVB Funding Escalator has proved an essential line of funding for us at a critical stage of project development.”

The TVB Funding Escalator is a £7.25m initiative, which, alongside the trade finance loan scheme, also includes a commercialisation loan scheme, an expansion loan scheme and a growth equity fund, which offer medium term finance for investment purposes.

Ian Baker, Senior Fund Manager at The FSE Group, which manages the funding escalator on behalf of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, adds: “Our involvement with ECG demonstrates how we can really support a growing company throughout its development. The earlier expansion funding allowed Robert to identify, explore and capitalise on the right opportunities and now with this short term loan we can help to ensure pre-production costs are met and progressed towards the conclusion of an exciting and remunerative project.”

With music, sound design, voice recording and concept development taking place at ECG’s studio in Reading, it is expected that the company will quadruple its workforce to 12 employees over the next two years.

The TVB Funding Escalator provides eligible companies with loans and equity funding between £50,000 and £250,000 for activities that will deliver high-growth and employment opportunities.

For more information visit www.thefsegroup.com/thames-valley-berkshire-funding-escalator or contact Ian Baker ian.baker@thefsegroup.com / 07836 331985.