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Distribs Helkon, Redbus ink acquisition alliance

Companies to pick up film rights for German, British markets

BERLIN — In a deal to be unveiled today, European upstart distribs Helkon Media and Redbus Film Group are forming an alliance to jointly acquire film rights.

As a first step in the new pact, the companies plan to pick up rights for the German and British markets where they are respectively based. In the future, the new partners are considering acquisitions on a pan-European scale and expansion of their distribution networks across Europe.

Deal is one of a number of moves by German players in recent months to partner with their European counterparts, and to launch pan-European distrib networks.

Last month, Germany’s Kinowelt Medien pacted with Spain’s Lola Films, kicking off with a film deal that is expected to lead to wider collaboration. Kinowelt is in the process of setting up joint distribution ventures across Europe and already has a Hungarian venture in place, a joint distribution arm in the U.K. with Alliance Atlantis and a presence in Switzerland.

French pay TV giant Canal Plus has similar plans in the works. Meanwhile, the Munich-based licensing shingle Intertainment, while not active in theatrical distribution itself, has pan-European distribution output deals in place with Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox.

Since going public in October, Helkon has been actively expanding — most recently by taking a 19% stake in U.S. boutique financing outfit Newmarket Capital.

Company already has a number of other alliances with U.S. players but this is the first time that it has struck out with a Euro partner.

The upstart London-based company Redbus is a film and media technology company looking to acquire rights to 20-25 pics a year. It is developing a platform to offer video on demand to the U.K. market.

(Adam Dawtrey in London contributed to this report.)

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