< Back to News

EFA in the News


EFA Partners Joins IAAPA Panel Discussion Regarding Financing for Leisure Venues

November 17, 2021

New York, NY (November 17, 2021) – During the week of November 15th, the Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (“IAAPA”) held its annual international expo in Orlando with over 30,000 attendees. One of the conference’s panel discussions was “FEC: Real Estate and Financing Solutions for the Entertainment Industry.” Ralph Willis, Managing Partner and co-founder of EFA Partners, was invited to be on the panel along with R.J. Mohindra, Principal of FEC Real Estate, and Jerry Merola of Amusement Entertainment Management who moderated the session.

The topic for the discussion was regarding the challenges of finding the ideal blend of market demographics, real estate options, and capital sources necessary to ensure a successful long-term business strategy. The session provided the fundamentals of how to select and evaluate potential consumer markets, compare real estate options, and structure and negotiate financing solutions for leisure project development.

Mr. Willis provided color on the currently conservative lending markets and discussed various financing alternatives that could be utilized for constructing new entertainment venues or for refinancing existing venues. He mentioned that, while alternatives could involve traditional bank financing, banks are currently conservative when approached with leisure financing opportunities so other sources should be explored such as equipment financiers, specialty lenders, REITs, and others. Mr. Willis described an overview of each alternative and potential financing terms in the current environment.

EFA’s principals have over 70 years of collective experience in providing financing solutions for entertainment, and media companies. They have deep relationships with banks, equipment lessors, construction lenders, specialty finance groups, REITs, and private equity groups. The team prides itself on handling its clients’ financing processes from start to finish with a transparent, defined, and success-based process. EFA’s approach typically involves identifying a targeted list of prospective financiers which varies greatly for each client, creating comprehensive lender presentations that highlight the client and the industry, introducing lenders that were previously unknown to the client, and participating in all phases of negotiations with lenders.

“I really appreciated the invitation to be on the panel and being able to discuss the issues everyone is facing when seeking financing for leisure venues,” said Mr. Willis. “EFA’s experience ranges from early-stage start-up companies with little experience in the sector to seasoned, mature companies that have several venues. In all cases, whether construction financing for a new venue or refinancing an existing one, the lending environment continues to evolve so it’s important for owner/operators to understand that latest developments in the capital markets.”

About EFA Partners

EFA Partners is a boutique financial advisory firm with offices in New York and Atlanta. It provides investment banking services focused on arranging growth capital, mergers and acquisitions, and financial consulting services. Its targeted sectors include family entertainment centers, movie theaters, theme parks, water parks, casinos, film and media service companies, communications service companies, concert venues, music, hospitality, observation wheels and decks, sports, and others. Since its inception in 2009, EFA has been retained by over 170 clients, have arranged over $1.5 billion of capital and have advised on over $3 billion of additional capital. 

Leading provider of digital media services for film and television

Background: Seasoned management team formed new film and television digital media services company and approached EFA to arrange financing for potential acquisition targets.

EFA Process: The company retained EFA to arrange acquisition financing and EFA approached several banks and specialty lenders.

Result: Closed debt financing to support two company acquisitions and working capital facility.

start quoteWe selected EFA as our advisor due to their financial experience specific to the film and television services sector. The past year has been tremendous for us as we significantly grew our business with EFA arranging financing that allowed us to execute on our growth plans very quicklyend quote

John Suh
Co-Founder and Co-President of  Pixelogic

quote tail


Television broadcast company owning and operating WGGB-TV and WGGB-TV D2, the ABC and FOX network affiliates serving the Springfield-Holyoke, MA market

Background: Initially approached by Gormally Broadcasting to arrange financing to recapitalize the company and fund planned acquisition growth. EFA became company’s sell-side advisor when industry changes and market forces made exploring a sale a more advantageous and financially rewarding strategic option for the company.

EFA Process: EFA was successful in securing financing commitments to fund a recapitalization and several acquisitions during the initial engagement focus. However, marketplace dynamics noted above resulted in EFA recommending a company sale. EFA provided a tailored, results-oriented approach from start to finish.

Result: EFA identified Meredith Corporation (NYSE: MDP) as the leading buyer and managed all aspects of the sale, maximizing the sales price received for the company.

start quoteIt was a pleasure working with Dave Harrington and the team at EFA. Through Dave’s deep industry knowledge, relationships and marketplace expertise, we were able to maximize the ultimate value of our company’s broadcast assets. end quote

John Gormally,
Founder, Owner and President of Gormally Broadcasting

quote tail


Growing movie theatre company that provides an in-theatre dining experience with over 300 screens throughout the US

Background: Longtime client that initially approached EFA seeking junior capital to grow its business.

EFA Process: After reviewing the company's capital structure and growth plans EFA recommended a financing structure that would recapitalize the company and provide significant growth capital.

Result: Closed three financings that recapitalized the company and provided growth for new theatres. Studio Movie Grill also retained EFA for M&A opportunities and to assist with restructuring process.

start quoteWe were delighted to work with the EFA Partners team on our second successful financing with them. Their wide range of capital markets experience, banking relationships and deep knowledge of the cinema and location-based entertainment industries made them the perfect choice to assist with our financing efforts, which support SMG's active growth strategy. end quote

Brian Schultz,
Owner, founder and President of Studio Movie Grill

quote tail


Television and motion picture post-production and digital content management services

Background: Company approached EFA seeking refinancing of its debt subsequent to other advisors attempting to do so with a combination of senior debt and equity.

EFA Process: After reviewing its capital structure EFA recommended a debt structure to fully refinance the company's debt.

Result: Closed senior debt facility that refinanced the company's existing debt, which was much more cost-effective than equity.

start quoteThe EFA team proposed a creative strategy to recapitalize Modern VideoFilm that met our needs in a way that was unique and different from what other financial advisory firms proposed to us. We appreciated their understanding of the entertainment industry and EFA's extensive financial relationships and we look forward to continuing our relationship. end quote

Moshe Barkat,
CEO and President of Modern VideoFilm

quote tail


Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner's well established movie theatre company - with almost 300 screens located throughout the US

Background: Landmark approached EFA for an equipment financing to convert its screens from 35mm to digital projection.

EFA Process: While the company had many financing options given its strong ownership, its management was busy with business operations and retained EFA to handle the digital conversion financing process.

Result: Closed equipment financing facility utilized for all of its digital projectors. EFA led all aspects of the financing including negotiation of complex digital cinema conversion agreements.

start quoteEFA's unique knowledge and experience with film exhibition and digital cinema was extremely helpful in leading our financing process. Landmark prides itself in providing the best customer experience to its patrons and we are excited that this financing will allow us to continue that with our digital conversion. end quote

Sky Hansen,
Chief Financial Officer of Landmark Theatres

quote tail


Provider of digital information services to the film industry

Background: Company approached EFA seeking funding to refinance debt and provide growth capital.

EFA Process: After reviewing its capital structure and growth plans, EFA approached the specialty lender market and arranged debt facility. Subsequently, company retained EFA as sell-side advisor. 

Result: Arranged debt for refinaning existing debt and for growth. Also, handled sale process from start to close for successful sale of business.

start quoteIt was a pleasure to work with the team at EFA Partners who served as our advisor on the sale of West World Media. Through deep industry knowledge, relationships and marketplace expertise, we were able to achieve a successful outcome. end quote

Brett West
Founder and President of West World Media

quote tail


Television industry management group formed to manage and operate US TV stations

Background: Huntington approached EFA seeking capital for potential television station acquisitions.

EFA Process: EFA understood that private equity firms and lenders are seeking experienced management teams to back for acquisition opportunities in the television sector.

Result: EFA has introduced the company to several private equity firms as well as senior lenders, resulting in bids for groups of television stations and the company continues to seek other opportunities, with EFA’s assistance.

start quoteWe are acutely aware of the trends that are transforming the local broadcast TV business and have recently begun to explore opportunities to acquire stations. We are very excited about the prospects for the industry and the opportunities to capitalize upon. We are also pleased to have EFA Partners as our financial advisor as their many years of media industry experience and extensive financial relationships will help us accomplish our goal of building a best-in-class station group.

end quote


David Tynan,
CEO of Huntington Broadcast Management Group

quote tail