Moon River seeks foreign investors
Moon River Studios — which intends to build sound stages, offices and film support services on 1,600 acres at Old River Road and Interstate 16 — has hired Lexden Capital LLC to raise as much as $49 million for its studioplex in Effingham County from foreign investors seeking visas.
Lexden Capital will manage financing through a federal EB-5 program for a loan amount of at least $10 million for Moon River, which does business as FONU2 Inc.
Moon River CEO Jake Shapiro said Thursday the EB-5 program, operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is the primary method the company intends to use to raise capital to start building its $90 film studio and production company.
The program encourages foreign investment in U.S. projects that create jobs in exchange for visas. Moon River plans to create 527 jobs in Effingham, with an average wage of $46,200.
“For every $1 million invested, you get a green card,” Shapiro said. “There's a tremendous amount of wealth in China and Russia — people who want to invest in a safe haven like the United States.”
He said investors like projects such as Moon River because they are backed by real estate. Moon River is leasing 1,600 acres from the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority.
Lexden will set up a regional center and raise the money and then loan it to Moon River at what Shapiro called "a very low interest" rate.
Shapiro said Moon River has been studying the EB-5 process and potential management companies for 18 months.
One of Lexden Capital's current EB-5 projects is the renovation and restoration of the Coco Palms Resort in Kauai, Hawaii, which will be operated by Hyatt Hotels.
Graham Bradstreet, chief financial officer for FONU2, said in a news release that while the EB-5 process “can be somewhat lengthy, it is a proven high-quality capital source for projects like ours.”
As an example of how long the process takes, World Trade Center Savannah filed an application to
become an EB-5 regional center in October and hopes for an answer in another one to three months, according to Angela Hendrix, spokeswoman for the Savannah Economic Development Authority.
David Soares, CEO of Lexden, said Moon River’s project is “very exciting, and I am highly confident that with our expertise, along with our global network, this will be a successful project and partnership.”
In other news, Moon River announced Thursday that Lisa Scarbrough has been named vice president of social media.
Scarbrough was digital properties and online community manager for Paula Deen Enterprises and Paula Deen Ventures over the past six years. Before that, she was senior web developer for eMarketSouth.
About Lexden Capital:
Lexden Capital, based in New York, provides capital and advisory services for companies at the project level or the holding company level. Its website is: www.lexdencapital.com.
About Moon River:
Moon River does business as FONU2 Inc., based in Rincon (OTCQB:FONU). FONU2 is a public-private partnership that is developing a $90 million film studio and production company in Effingham County. Its website is www.Fonu2.com.
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