MDR to nab stake in Bavaria Film

In return, co. acquires interest in 8 MDR subsids

BERLIN — Regional pubcaster MDR is taking a 17% stake in Bavaria Film, one of Europe’s biggest film and TV producer-distributors.

In return, Bavaria is acquiring stakes in eight MDR subsids, including majority shares in producers Ottonia Media, Saxonia and Motion Works as well as minority stakes in technical service companies that will see combined revenues of e50 million ($49 million).

Bavaria will consolidate some $20 million of that sum. Deal also boosts Bavaria’s capital stock to $29 million.

Bavaria said the move ensures the continuation of its yearlong cooperation with MDR and restructures and optimizes production and service activities.

Deal has worried a number of producers who have complained that Bavaria is consolidating power and creating a virtual monopoly in public broadcasting production. Bavaria’s other shareholders include regional pubcasters BR, SWR and WDR, which, like MDR, are all regional affils of national pubcaster ARD.

Bavaria said it was expanding but not altering the market. Company does not have an exclusive deal with its pubcaster shareholders, but producers fear the setup could shut them out and make MDR another outlet for Bavaria product.

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