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Germany's GFP takes over Odeon Film

David Groenewold’s GFP Medienfonds, left in limbo by the German government’s crackdown on tax shelter film funds, has taken over a TV and film production company.

The publicly listed Odeon Film was owned by pubcaster ARD’s Bavaria Film group. It has six production companies that make content for commercial webs and pubcasters.

The acquisition is a major step forward for GFP, a media fund focusing on local TV and film projects that was left high and dry last December when the government nixed tax shelters — to stop the billions of euros that were flowing annually to Hollywood producers and shore up much-needed tax revenue.

Groenewold decided not to reinvest GFP fund revenue back into film for fear of legal complications.

The law is unclear about the ability of private film funds to offset reinvestments in films against revenue from past productions.

“It’s time for film financiers to get involved in production companies and stop being passive investors,” Groenewold told Daily Variety.

GFP’s new direction offers its investors stability, as well as the opportunity to become company shareholders.

“Odeon Film is debt-free and has plenty of liquidity,” Groenewold said. “We are also buying a brand name with Odeon, which has many years of experience and success.”

Odeon’s theatrical and TV productions include recent hit teen comedy “Wild Chicks” as well as popular primetime crime series such as ARD’s “Die Kommissarin,” Sat.1’s “SK Koelsch” and ZDF’s hit forensic skein “Der letzte Zeuge” (The Last Witness).

Bavaria Film, which owned nearly 54% of Odeon, and ARD have been under pressure to sell off some of their commercial assets since last year’s product-placement scandal put the spotlight on the pubcaster’s vast commercial operations — something the EU Commission has long complained about.

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