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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bringing Hollywood to Malaysian shores

Bringing Hollywood to Malaysian shores

Friday July 30, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR: Making Hollywood movies in Malaysia is an important part of Jho Low’s plans to help attract investments to the country.

In an interview, Low tells of how he was getting his Hollywood friends like Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx and Leonardo diCaprio to use Malaysia as a location for movies.
DiCaprio: Among Low’s Hollywood friends who are interested in using Malaysia as a location for their future movies.

“They are very interested. It will have a tremendous impact on our tourism profile when this happens,” he said.

Low’s own entertainment company could be investing in such movies as they plan to set up a special entertainment fund that will invest in ventures from fashion to movies.

He also tells of another superstar friend – Usher – who wants to help him start a charity programme for children here to learn the business part of the entertainment industry.

Q: Where does the Wynton Group go from here?

A: Since I am now in the limelight, we expect to launch our new fund sometime in October. Firstly, there is an initial US$1bil real estate and hospitality fund, mainly for investing in real estate, hotels and hospitality projects around the world.

Secondly, we are also looking to launch a US$250mil entertainment fund because we believe there is some synergy between real estate and entertainment.

Q: Are we talking about movies, music or the whole spectrum?

A: The whole spectrum. So anything from fashion to movies and so forth. Lastly, we are also looking into a US$250mil general fund. When I mention all these fund sizes, it is initial first phase equity commitment that we are securing which means that actual fund sizes and purchasing power could be much larger.

An equity of US$1bil could have a potential purchasing power in excess of US$2bil or more after leverage. Coupled with this, our new headquarters will be based in Abu Dhabi and we have committed to 20,000sq ft in Sowwah Island in Abu Dhabi.

We are excited at the growth proposition of Abu Dhabi as a financial hub for the Middle East.

Q: Where is this fund set up?

A: It’s Cayman-based with a fund manager potentially based in either Abu Dhabi or the Caymans.

Q: What is this about you and Usher?

A: I have known Usher for a long time. I met him in New York and I was working with him on Usher’s New Look Foundation which is a charity that assists children who want careers in the business side of the entertainment industry.

I mentor these kids in terms of giving advise on writing business plans, which are things I learnt while at Wharton Business School. We have been talking for the last few months about bringing that programme to Malaysia.

Sometimes it appeals to the younger generation to get inspired by not business people but celebrities who have business acumen.

Q; Do you have a girlfriend?

A: Yes, my girlfriend is my work. Ask my friends and business partners and they will tell you that I sleep only three to four hours a day and I am always working. I love my work.

Q: A businessman once said that to find out where a business is based, all you have to do is to find out where the secretary is based. So, where is your secretary based?

A: My secretary travels with me everywhere I go. So I guess I am based all over the world, although my heart shall always be in Malaysia.

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