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Kinowelt buyout a Neue start

Media group ready to launch new holding company

BERLIN — The future looks brighter for bankrupt film group Kinowelt Medien as creditor banks and company execs geared up Thursday for a management buyout.

Founders and former chief execs Michael and Rainer Koelmel have ankled; Marcus Schoefer, head of licensing division Kinowelt Lizenzverwertung, and Jerry Payne, managing director of Kinowelt Home Entertainment, are taking over the core business.

Next month they’ll launch Neue Kinowelt Medien, a new holding company that will contain Kinowelt’s distribution, home entertainment and TV licensing divisions.

Creditor banks greenlight

Insolvency administrator Wolfgang Ott confirmed that creditor banks ABN Amro, BHF Bank and HypoVereinsbank had greenlit Schoefer and Payne, who are backed by a German-Belgian investment group.

Details are being finalized with creditors, and the new management is expected to make a formal announcement in coming weeks.

Kinowelt’s fate became synonymous with that of Germany’s Neuer Markt: Company’s fortunes soared along with its share price following its IPO in 1997.

Boosted film prices

As a powerful new rival to buyers like the now-bankrupt Kirch and RTL, Kinowelt was partially responsible for the skyrocketing film prices in the German market.

The group started to crack after a buying spree, which included outbidding both RTL and Kirch on a film package from Warner Bros. Kirch and RTL’s TV networks refused to buy the overpriced pics, and Kinowelt was forced to return the bundle as its debts grew.

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