EXCLUSIVE: Stuart Ford, the IM Global founder and CEO who exited acrimoniously last August, has launched a new company with major capital behind him. AGC Studios – short for Accelerated Global Content — is an indie film and television production and licensing company. The venture will be backed initially by three strategic investors: Latin American private asset management firm MediaNet Partners; Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Symantec CEO and Fibonacci Films founder/chairman Greg Clark; and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a leading entertainment company in the Arabic-speaking world.
AGC Studios will develop, produce, finance and globally license feature films, scripted, unscripted and factual television, digital and musical content. The company launches with headquarters in Los Angeles and London. Ford has named as his AGC Studios COO Miguel Palos. Palos was his CFO at IM Global.
Well respected in the foreign sales community as he built IM Global over 10 years into a company that made 30 films over the last five years, distributed over 100 pictures internationally and formed a TV joint venture with China-based Tencent, Ford exited in shocking fashion last August after disagreements with Tang Media Partners after Donald Tang’s company bought IM Global a year earlier for around $200 million. Ford confirmed the launch of his new company to Deadline, and said his dispute has been settled with TMP, which has rolled IM Global and Open Road into one entity, Global Road.
AGC Studios will do things a bit differently to reflect a changing marketplace. It will not be as reliant on pre-sales or international distribution, or even U.S. theatrical deals in some cases.
“The business plan is designed around today’s industry as opposed to the way things were done yesterday,” Ford told Deadline. “Our focus will broaden beyond traditional film and TV and into urban, Latino, and music-driven content that takes advantage of the opportunities presented by this boom in worldwide content. We have strong funding resources that will allow us to create a lot more emphasis on development than we ever did at IM Global. That will be a key for output, rather than to be reliant on packages that come from the agencies.”
Ford said he will be announcing staff — he hinted that he’s “keeping most of the band together” — and an inaugural slate of projects shortly. “If I’ve learned anything over time, building a company isn’t as much about funding as it is establishing a level of trust and shared vision. I have faith and optimism in our new partners and am confident we will build AGC into a strong brand. We’re in full bloom as of today, off and running and active.”
His new partners also issued statements.
Said Juan Aguerrevere, partner at MediaNet Partners: “Our two main goals are to invest in talent and to find true partners along the way. In Stuart we have found both in spades. His proven track record and understanding of the industry and its changing nature is second to none. We look forward to working with Stuart in this new adventure.”
Said Clark: “We are excited to partner with Stuart and his team. Stuart is a distinguished leader in the industry and an excellent steward to navigate the structural changes that are happening across the industry. Stuart and his team’s experience, business acumen and creative capability are exemplary.”
Said Ben Ross, Head of Narrative Film and Television at Image Nation Abu Dhabi: “Over the last few years, Image Nation has enjoyed a close partnership with Stuart and are pleased to be a founding investor in his new venture. We believe AGC Studios is in a unique position to capitalize on the changing trends in the marketplace.”
Ford and Palos were represented by Weintraub Tobin Chediak Coleman Grodin Law Corporation throughout the investment negotiations and corporate structuring. MediaNet Partners was represented by Shepherd, Mullin, Richter and Hampton, LLP. Clark was represented by Loeb & Loeb LLP, and Image Nation Abu Dhabi by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.