Producer may buy rival companies

French production, distribution and sales house EuropaCorp is continuing the Gallic buying spree begun in October, when it swallowed up sales company Roissy Films for E28 million ($40.6 million).

EuropaCorp founder and controlling shareholder Luc Besson told French daily Les Echos that he’s in talks to buy, or take stakes in, “three to four” French production companies. He neither identified the companies nor provided a time frame for the acquisitions, which form part of Besson’s plan to double EuropaCorp’s size and revenues in the next four years.

Roissy delivered to EuropaCorp a library containing some 500 pics at a time when sales opportunities are opening up in France due to the growth of new-media outlets.

As well as cross-collaterizing risk by beefing up the company’s pic production potential, the acquisition of additional French producers may also help bulwark EuropaCorp’s film release slate as the company seeks to shore up its share value.

EuropaCorp launched a 21% free float initial public offering in July on Paris’ Euronext stock exchange, raising $101.6 million. Since then, however, it has seen its stock slump despite posting $1.7 million profits off sales of $106.8 million for the six months ended Sept. 30.

One reason the stock has slipped, Besson told Les Echos, is that investors couldn’t understand the irregular seasonality of film releases.

“Our company’s not a typical firm. It’s difficult to model or compare. Shoots normally take place in summer. In the early year, family films can come out only in February or Easter,” Besson said.

Raising the number of films distributed annually to 10-15 from eight to 10 will allow EuropaCorp to adopt more regular distribution patterns, Besson argued.

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