TV producer seeks 'redressement judiciare'

PARIS — France’s Carrere Group, one of its biggest TV producers, has sought “redressement judiciare,” Gaul’s version of a Chapter 11 filing.

Carrere can be seen as an early victim of the credit crunch, unwise expansion and the reluctance of its founder, 72-year-old Charles Carrere, to relinquish control.

Carrere went on a spending spree between 2000 and 2005, growing to own some 50 subsids or affiliates, including animation company Les Armateurs and primetime drama producers Scarlett  Dune (“Maigret”), Ego (“Family Celebration”) and Scarlett (makers of the “Ally McBeal”-ish “Clara Sheller”).

In November, Carrere announced operating profit losses for 2007 of 116 million euros ($162.3 million) against revenues of $188.3 million, thanks to massive writedowns on its rights library value.

It is also under investigation by France’s Financial Markets Authority regulator, suspected of inaccurate company reporting.

Animation giant Moonscoop signed an in-principle agreement in August to buy Carrere but failed to raise the financing before a Nov. 30 deadline, which, Moonscoop alleges, Charles Carrere refused to extend.

Receivership will see a court-appointed administrator attempt to restructure debt or put Carrere into liquidation. According to French newspaper Les Echos, Carrere’s debt load is around $84 million.

In the case of liquidation, companies said to be circling Carrere assets include Fabrice Larue, who bought Telfrance this year, and Lagardere Active, which has signaled its interest in acquisitions.

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