Kinowelt whittling down

Group sells Kinopolis exhib chain Friday

BERLIN — Bankrupt German entertainment group Kinowelt Medien announced Friday it is in “intensive talks” with investors on a takeover of its core distribution, home entertainment and film rights business, with a deal expected by mid-April.

The one-time Teutonic mini-major, which saw its fortunes soar and and then plummet along with those of Germany’s Neuer Markt, continues to whittle itself down, selling a number of assets last week including most of its exhib operations and a TV production unit.

The group sold its Kinopolis exhib chain Friday and said it intends to relinquish its 25% stake in selected Village Roadshow multiplexes by the end of March. It also sold its 51% stake in Leipzig-based Drefa Produktion und Lizenz with retroactive effect to January to company shareholder Drefa Media.

A final sale of its core operation could still take some time, company said. Wolfgang Ott, Kinowelt’s provisional insolvency administrator, stressed that delays in the “ambitious timetable” could not be excluded, adding that the “sole reason is the sheer complexity of the matters under negotiation — everyone concerned is working with great determination to achieve a satisfactory result.”

Day-to-day business operations at Kinowelt are running according to plan and liabilities, including wages and salaries, should be covered from the company’s own resources even after the end of March, Ott said.

The cinema chain, which operates multiplexes in Germany, has been picked up by a Frankfurt investment group. The move marks Kinowelt’s withdrawal from exhib operations. Details of the purchase were not disclosed. Teutonic cinema operator Wolfgang Theile is taking over management of Kinopolis.

Following its IPO in 1998, Kinowelt went on a shopping spree which included buying a costly film package from Warners.

Most of Germany’s TV webs declined to pick up any of the high-priced pics.

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