PAG bags IPO plans

Partners and CEO ankle German prod'n group

BERLIN — Germany’s media market has taken another hit: production association Producers AG (PAG) shelved IPO plans Thursday as CEO Friedrich-Carl Wachs and a slew of partners quit the firm.

Launched in 2000, PAG linked independent German filmmakers. But the alliance proved ineffective.

“We were fighting different battles on different frontiers,” Wachs told Daily Variety. “First, the capital markets reached their peak in 2000 and have been falling ever since. The recession and advertising slump forced broadcasters to cut spending. The market for TV movies and series just got smaller and smaller.”

PAG members also were blocked by the increasingly vertically integrated production arms of Germany’s four big players — terrestrial TV congloms Kirch and RTL, and pubcasters ARD and ZDF — leaving few opportunities for outside producers.

Another obstacle was the changing trend on TV. “Producers AG got started in the middle of this ‘quizzeria,’ ” Wachs explained. “Programs like ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,’ reality shows and other light entertainment shows gave webs even less reason to employ movie producers.”

PAG, which sought to expand through majority investments in indie film and TV outfits while bringing the owners onboard as shareholders in the parent, will restructure as a number of members leave the group.

Abandoning ship

Production outfits Hager Moss Film, TV 60 Film and BojeBuck as well as distributor Delphi Filmverleih have either already pulled out or will be leaving soon. Among those remaining in the group are Cologne’s Zeitsprung, Berlin-based box!Filmproduktion, Munich’s MTM and Zurich’s C-Films.

Wachs will become chief operating officer at producer-distrib Senator Entertainment.

PAG shareholding investment groups IKB, ILB and MVB Media Venture have canceled a planned merger, originally scheduled for this year. Company is pulling out of sales, distribution and financing, which it had handled for its members.

PAG finance chief Dietmar Thiele will replace Wachs, but the caretaker CEO will also ankle later this year.

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