3 PM UPDATE: I’ve confirmed with insiders that talks are taking place between Clark Hallren and Suhail Rizvi. But don’t expect any immediate announcements about Hallren’s plans because Clark’s contract with JP Morgan doesn’t expire until August. “Clark has been having lunches for the past 6 weeks telling people that he’s leaving the bank and going to work for Rizvi,” one source tells me. “He starts the new gig in August.”
6:25 AM: This is certainly a surprise. Film financing sources are telling me that Hollywood pal Clark Hallren, the longtime Managing Director in the Los Angeles-based Entertainment Industries Group of JP Morgan Securities, is leaving. The word is he may join Connecticut-based Rizvi Traverse Management and work with equity fund operator Suhail Rizvi (best known to Hollywood as a substantial investor in ICM). Hallren since November 1986 had been with JP Morgan’s showbiz group which arranges 95% of financing for major movie studios and independent film producers. (For instance, he played the major role aiding Starz’s Overture Films led by CEO Chris McGurk to complete $325M in long-term film slate financing and distribution agreements for the company, including a $225M credit facility provided by a group of banks led by JP Morgan.) JP Morgan’s Entertainment Industries group remains one of the few active banks authorizing multibillion dollar lines of credits in the film financing arena after Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort and others shut their showbiz divisions. The unit has worked with DreamWorks SKG, MGM, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros as well as some of Hollywood’s best-known films, including Gladiator, Seabiscuit and many of the James Bond movies. Among other deals, it arranged the IPOs for DreamWorks Animation and RHI Entertainment, the $4.8 billion sale of MGM to Sony Corp of America and its equity partners, and the $340 million revolving credit facility for Lions Gate. Long led by legend John Miller, the Entertainment Industries Group is now headed by David Shaheen who took over when Miller retired after 30 years. Hallren’s move to Rizvi (amid rumors his contract wasn’t extended) must mean the ICM investor wants to dive deeper into showbiz investments.