Asia Briefing: Financier Horlick now backing Chinese films


We came across a familiar face in Shanghai recently when British investment manager Nicola Horlick was in the city for the film festival with her project Arabian Nights, which was developed by her Derby Street Films Fund.

Horlick first made her name in the early 1990s when she was a key player in building up Morgan Grenfell Investment Management. Then she hit the headlines in 1997 when she had a falling out with Morgan Grenfell’s senior management over rumours she was planning to quit and start up on her own.

She flew to the Deutsche Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, a phalanx of journalists in tow, to persuade Morgan Grenfell’s German owners to back her case.

First project
Ms Horlick was back in the news in 2008 when she lost millions of dollars of her investors’ money to Wall Street fraudster Bernie Madoff. Her company Bramdean Alternatives had £21 million, or nearly one 10th of its assets, with Madoff.

Last year she turned her hand to film financing and Arabian Nights was developed by the first Derby Street Films fund, and the “superwoman of the city” and mother-of-six is about to launch the third fund, Derby Street Films III.

“We’re making a massive film in China with a $65 million budget, Arabian Nights directed by Chuck Russell. It’s our first project in China and it’s the first true foreign-Chinese co-production,” said Horlick.

Derby Street Films currently has about 20 films on the go.

She was inspired to explore the Chinese market because box office takings are declining in the United States, while China is growing enormously.

“In the Xintiandi area in Shanghai I saw a queue around the block to get into the movies,” she said.