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Demonstrating the complexity of the transactions, a bevy of elite U.S. and French firms is advising two major French-based film and television production companies on multimillion-euro restructuring and refinancing plans. The deals underscore the long reach of the COVID-19 economic downturn into the entertainment industry, where productions have been halted and many remain in suspense because of the health crisis. In one of the deals, Technicolor, a publicly traded supplier of equipment and services to global film and television productions, has received shareholder approval for a restructuring plan that will see it raise new share capital and benefit from government backing to help companies weather the COVID-19 storm. The refinancing plan is to meet Technicolor’s objectives to obtain (EURO)420 million in new financing to meet liquidity needs and to reduce indebtedness by (EURO)660 million through conversion of part of the company’s financial debt into capital, Technicolor said in a statement. “This plan provides a viable long-term development framework for the group, its employees, customers and suppliers, and offers its current shareholders the opportunity to participate in the company’s recovery,” Technicolor said. In the other deal, EuropaCorp, an independent film and television production house founded in 1999 by the French director Luc Besson, said it had completed two share capital increases totaling (EURO)193 million. The increases are reserved for two private equity funds, Vine Media Opportunities and Falcon Strategic Partners IV, major creditors of EuropaCorp, the company said. The capital increases will “put EuropaCorp’s balance sheet on a sounder footing,” according to a company statement, and allow the company to “focus on its core business” of TV and movie production. Based near Paris, EuropaCorp is best known outside France for producing box-office hits such as Taken and The Transporter and their sequels. It also produces French television shows. The company has posted declining revenue and widening net losses in the past two financial years, according to figures posted on its website. EuropaCorp is being advised by Gibson Dunn, with a restructuring team including partners Matthew Kelsey and Eric Wise and of counsel Alan Moskowitz in New York, and Jean-Pierre Farges in Paris. Paris partner Ariel Harroch and of counsel Clarisse Bouchetemblé are advising on corporate/securities law, and Paris partner Amanda Bevan-de Bernède is advising on finance. Weil’s Paris office is advising EuropaCorp’s mezzanine lenders with partners Anne-Sophie Noury on restructuring and David Aknin and Agathe Soilleux on corporate/mergers and acquisitions. De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés is advising EuropaCorp’s senior lenders’ agent, with partner Charles-Edouard Renault on media and entertainment law, partner Anker Sorensen on restructuring and senior counsel Brice Mathieu on corporate. Technicolor is being advised by De Pardieu Brocas Maffei, with restructuring partners Philippe Dubois and Joanna Gumpelson and restructuring counsel Alexis Rapp, corporate and stock market partner Delphine Vidalenc, and finance partner Sébastien Boullier de Branche. Kirkland & Ellis Paris is advising Technicolor on aspects of American law and other foreign rights, with tax partner Nadine Gelli and corporate partner Laurent Victor-Michel. Dechert partner Philippe Thomas is advising on employment law. Technicolor’s lenders are being advised by Gibson Dunn, with a Paris-based team including restructuring partner Jean-Pierre Farges, restructuring and stock market law partner Benoit Fleury, finance partner Amanda Bevan-de Bernède, tax partner Jérôme Delaurière, corporate partners Bertrand Delaunay and Ariel Harroch, and corporate and stock market counsel Clarisse Bouchetemblé. The Gibson Dunn team also includes finance partner Janet Vance in New York as well as lawyers in the firm’s Denver office. Hogan Lovells in Paris is advising the judicial administrators FHB, with restructuring partner Philippe Druon and counsel Astrid Zourli. Weil is advising Bpifrance Participations, a subsidiary of Bpifrance, a French government-linked investment bank, with partner Anne-Sophie Noury on restructuring and Yannick Piette on corporate. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is advising the bridge lenders. The Freshfields team includes restructuring partners Madlyn Primoff and Mark Liscio in the U.S. and Laurent Mabilat in Paris. Allen & Overy partner Julien Roux in Paris and a team in London led by partners Joel Ferguson and Matt Moore are advising a lenders’ group, along with French firm Santoni & Associés. … U.S. Soccer Federation Inc. announced that Karen Leetzow, who most recently served as the general counsel for NASCAR, has become the organization’s top lawyer. Leetzow, who is the first hire by new U.S. Soccer secretary-general and CEO William Wilson, is based in Chicago and leads a 21-person legal department and a five-person risk management team. Leetzow joins the organization while it is still in a legal battle with the U.S. women’s soccer team over the gender pay gap with the less successful men’s national team. Leetzow started as in-house intellectual property counsel at NASCAR in 1999 and in December 2017 was named general counsel. Leetzow has also worked as an associate at Kilpatrick Stockton and an examining attorney at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. … ViacomCBS Networks International appointed Kathryn Richardson as vice president, business and legal affairs for the UK. Based in the media company’s London office, Richardson will lead “managing legal risk and delivery across its commercial strategy and ensuring the regulatory compliance of all content broadcast on ViacomCBS’ UK channel portfolio”, according to a ViacomCBS statement. She joins from the BBC, where she was most recently director of commercial rights and business affairs for legal, talent, digital and operations. According to her LinkedIn profile, Richardson was also previously head of legal and business affairs for BBC Production and BBC News. This will be Richardson’s second stint at ViacomCBS, having begun her career there in 2000, at what was then MTV Networks Europe. In her new position at ViacomCBS Networks International, Richardson will report to senior vice president and general counsel Sebastian Chames.
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By Stan Soocher
In the 1976 Copyright Act, Congress inserted a termination right for authors or their successors for pre-January 1, 1978, assignments of copyrighted works. However, the legislators didn’t directly address a key issue: how to determine termination rights for what are known as “gap grant” works — that is, those created post-1977 under copyright assignments made before then.
By Neil J. Rosini and Michael I. Rudell
The COVID-19 outbreak has wreaked havoc on the entertainment industry. Productions have been halted and distribution channels disrupted. In the midst of this pandemic, one big question for contracting parties is whether force majeure will excuse or postpone a party’s obligations without liability.
By Raychel Lean
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By Mark A. Salky and Jessica Johnson Fishfeld
During a time when online marketing, virtual shopping and electronic communication are more widely used than ever, it is critically important for entertainment industry businesses to be highly aware of how they are using trademarks, the scope of a trademark owner’s rights and the consequences of infringing them.