Constantin Film fights hostile bid

Management looks to other options

BERLIN — The battle for Germany’s leading producer-distributor intensified over the weekend as the management of Constantin Film voted to take defensive action against a takeover by Swiss shareholder Highlight Communications.

In an emergency meeting Saturday, Constantin’s supervisory board, which is chaired by Constantin founder Bernd Eichinger, gave the order to review alternative measures to stave off the hostile takeover.

“We now have the task to look at all available options in the interest of the company and all of its shareholders,” said Constantin chief executive Fred Kogel.

Constantin’s management also got the greenlight to exercise its right to buyback company shares from minority shareholders. Move could mean a bidding war against Highlight, which, in accordance with German takeover law, is making its own compulsory buyout offer to shareholders.

Highlight purchased a minority stake in Constantin last month from TV license trader EM.TV, boosting its total holding in the company to more than 41%.

Other possible avenues available to Constantin include a capital increase and the recruitment of friendly investors in the hope of watering down Highlight’s stake.

While observers say Highlight and Constantin have worked well together, Eichinger is said to be wary of losing his independence at the company he created and is intent on retaining equal footing with fellow shareholders.

Despite the defensive posturing, Constantin remains in talks with Highlight for a more peaceful solution.

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