LISBON — Portuguese producer Antonio da Cunha Telles is the only bidder in the auction to buy Portugal’s ailing national film laboratory, Tobis Portuguesa, that is 96.48% owned by the national film institute, ICA.

His €7 million ($9.7 million) bid is 1% above the minimum bid specified by ICA in the auction.

In the wake of dwindling traditional lab work, Tobis losses have mounted in recent years.

ICA hopes that a private buyer will restructure Tobis and downsize lab staff.

In the process, ICA also hopes to secure revenues to assuage its own funding crisis, caused by the removal of state coin and a squeeze on Portuguese TV ad revenues.

Da Cunha Telles is currently Tobis’ biggest single private shareholder, with a 1.5% stake. He ran Tobis at the end of the 1970s while serving as head of the film institute.

“When I took the reins at Tobis in the late 1970s, the lab was about to close and I managed to turn it around,” Da Cunha Telles said. “I’d like to repeat this feat in the digital age.”

He aims to focus on digital processing and the burgeoning European digital cinema market.

Exec has inked deals with French companies SmartJog and Cinego.net to establish a high-speed fiber optic digital delivery platform for the European d-cinema market.

He also intends to establish a d-cinema datacenter that will provide longterm backup facilities for digitally lensed pictures, including transcriptions to film.

If ICA greenlights the bid, the new Tobis prezy will be Alain Coiffier, who ran Madrid Film Lab in the 1990s and until late 2010 was president of Panavision France.

ICA president José Pedro Ribeiro said he plans to finalize the sale negotiations by the end of March.