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German giant snags Stella

Deal inked at $20 mil

BERLIN — German live entertainment giant Deutsche Entertainment (DEAG) has taken over ailing rival stage musical promoter Stella.

Deal, worth some DM40 million ($20 million), leaves DEAG with Stella’s profitable assets, including production facilities and stage productions of “Cats,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and the upcoming “Dance of the Vampires,” based on the Roman Polanski 1967 film “The Fearless Vampire Killers.”

Deutsche Entertainment beat out a number of competitors looking to get Stella, including U.S. group SFX Entertainment and Dutch producer John van den Ende, co-founder of Dutch TV giant Endemol Prods., who reportedly offered some $30 million for the company.

To boost Stella’s bottom line, DEAG execs plan to focus on the core business (no more diverting of profits to, say, real estate development), reduce the running time of musicals to make them more attractive and concentrate on four main cities with a total of six venues.

Acquisition makes DEAG the largest live entertainment provider on the European continent. Company execs are forecasting rosy revenues of $255 million, up from $125 million before the deal, and gross profits of nearly $11 million.

Stella filed for bankruptcy in November after losses of DM90 million ($50 million) in 1998 forced the company to lower the curtains on two of its productions, “Les Miserables” in Duisberg and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in Essen, last year. Restructuring and the layoff of 1,000 employees failed to get the company back on its feet.

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