The Greek film industry is getting a helping hand from the Hellenic Development Bank (HDB), which has introduced a €62.5 million ($62.48 million) loan guarantee program aimed at the audiovisual sector.
Presented by the Audiovisual Producers’ of Greece (SAPOE) at the Thessaloniki Film Festival’s Agora Talks industry section, the program is specifically targeted at motion picture, video and television production, and computer game development.
The HDB offers a guarantee rate of 80% for low-interest loans of between €25,000 and €900,000 provided by partner lenders Piraeus Bank and Optima Bank.
The guarantee fund is seen as an added financing tool that supplements the country’s 40% cash rebate program available to feature films, documentaries, TV drama series, animated films and digital games.
Speaking to a crowded room of film and TV producers, HDB CEO Athina Chatzipetrou (pictured) explained: “It is the tool that finances your company, your company’s investment, based on a business plan, evaluated by the investment committee.
“You own a company, you are creative, you have your products, but you are also an entrepreneur, so you need to bear in mind that you need to check the basket of financial tools you can use. You have the cash rebate for the product; you can have this product for the investments, which goes directly to your business.”
Chatzipetrou added that producers also had other options from HDB that are not necessarily limited to the film and TV sector, such as its new €800 million Growth program aimed at facilitating company mergers.
The HDB chief also touted the bank’s InnoAgora digital networking platform, created with the French Development Bank, which enables companies, investors and business support structures to enter into investment agreements and commercial partnerships.
“It is like Facebook for companies and because it is not only addressed to Greece, but to a wider European range, it becomes even more interesting.”
Simos Manganis, head of Green Olive Films, stressed the need for a cash-flow certificate to secure bridge financing, particularly for foreign productions shooting in Greece that intend to use the cash rebate. “We’re creating an ecosystem, we have got the policy, the tools, the film producers, we are just missing that part of the creation chain, of this simple, sustainable dynamic.”
Leonidas Christopoulos, general secretary at the Greek Ministry of Digital Governance, agreed with Manganis, assuring that there would be discussions on making a cash-flow certificate possible.
Christopoulos stressed that the cash rebate had the strong support of the government.
“We want the cash rebate scheme to continue and that is why we have succeeded in extracting another €200 million, mainly from European funds, already having secured the €75 million of the national budget. At the same time, we will continue to concentrate on simplifying the regulatory framework, for there will always be a need for update.”