FTD, President Films ink deal

Merger expected within two or three years

PARIS — France Television Distribution, the sales arm of Gallic pubcasters France 2 and France 3, has taken a 50% stake in veteran film sales company President Films.

The deal, which is expected to lead to France Television taking a controlling stake in President in the future, is designed to strengthen the pubcasters international film sales activity.

Competition to rep pics among the Paris-based sales company is extremely tough at the moment with companies like Studio Canal Plus, TF1 Intl. and UGC all chasing the same handful of films. President was one of the few remaining indie sales companies to be holding its own, although company chairman Jacques-Eric Strauss is known to want to spend more of his time producing films.

Strauss has tended to represent pics from Claude Berri’s Renn Productions and is currently handling the megabuck comedy “Asterix and Obelix vs. Caesar.”

France Television Distribution and President will continue to be separate entities for the immediate future, although a merger is expected within two or three years.

Bonduel is hoping that by teaming up with the experienced Strauss, he will be able to persuade producers to give their sales mandates to FTD and President, especially on films that have been co-produced by France 2 or France 3.

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