Kinowelt bows Web, exhib plans

New channel proposal sends stock plummeting

BERLIN — German film powerhouse Kinowelt Medien unveiled last week firmer plans to expand its television, cineplex operation, Internet and sports rights marketing businesses and announced an acquisition in television production.

Company founder and topper Rainer Koelmel said he still wants to set up a commercial or digital channel, a notion that spooked investors in January and drove the share down 23% in one day.

Koelmel said cable network availability would be key in determining whether a 2001 start date is possible and added that a channel could be converted into a Web portal when TV/Web convergence becomes a reality in Germany.

Chief financial officer Eduard Unzeitig put the startup costs of a Kinowelt station at DM80 million ($39 million), lower than some analysts’ expectations.

Pondering plex push

Kinowelt is again mulling a serious commitment to cinema construction and operation as another outlet for content, Koelmel said, but he did not provide further details.

Company announced the purchase of a 26% stake in Hamburg-based production house Trebitsch, 10% from CLT/Ufa and 16% from board member Katharina Trebitsch. The Euro broadcaster had held 74% and Trebitsch 26%. The move gives Kinowelt more muscle in TV production, Koelmel said.

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