Technicolor and its former CEO, Frederic Rose, have been indicted in France on charges of fraud and breach of trust in connection with their role in the bankruptcy of Tarak Ben Ammar’s post-production group, Quinta Industries, and its subsequent acquisition of the company in January 2012.
The indictment, handed down by the high court of Nanterre, follows a criminal complaint filed by Quinta Communications, the parent company of Quinta Industries, in April 2012, which prompted a thorough preliminary investigation by French authorities. During the seven-year probe, computer and phone records of executives, including Rose’s, were examined. Rose, who had joined Technicolor from Alcatel-Lucent in 2008, was ousted from the company last month and replaced by Richard Moat.
Quinta Industries, a former French leader in the post-production and visual effects sectors, went bankrupt in December 2011. Technicolor, which had acquired 17.5% of Quinta Industries in 2006, made a bid to acquire its key assets once the company was placed in bankruptcy, and eventually finalized the acquisition.
In its decision, the high court of Nanterre said it suspected Technicolor of having played a pivotal role in the downfall of Quinta Industries in order to buy the company’s assets at a knockdown price. Technicolor bought the assets for an estimated €700,000 at a time when Quinta Industries was valued at about €36 million, according to the French website La Lettre A.
The high court of Nanterre also accused Technicolor of having intentionally failed to disclose its plan to launch the post-production facility Technicolor Entertainment Services France, and suspects Technicolor of having withheld information about its negotiations with its former rival Deluxe to launch a joint venture. When Technicolor became a shareholder in Quinta, Ben Ammar’s company became contractually banned from negotiating with Deluxe, which could have helped Quinta Industries come out of bankruptcy.
Aside from the criminal complaint, Quinta has also filed a civil lawsuit claiming €60 million in damages from Technicolor, which is listed on the Paris stock market. A decision on the suit by the business court of Nanterre is expected at some point next year.
Contacted by Variety, Technicolor’s reps said the company “doesn’t wish to comment an ongoing judicial case.” Technicolor’s reps nevertheless added that Ben Ammar himself was sentenced in 2018 by the Court of Appeal of Versailles “to pay liabilities related to the bankruptcy of Quinta Industries… and was also banned by the Court from holding managerial responsibilities for three years.” The ban does not apply to ongoing mandates.
Ben Ammar is a powerful Franco-Tunisian film producer and distributor whose credits includes Jean-Jacques Annaud’s epic “Black Gold” and the miniseries “The Truth About Harry Quebert,” as well as Nate Parker’s “American Skin.” Ben Ammar also owns Eagle Pictures, a leading Italian production and distribution company, which is also a strategic investor in Spy Glass Media Group along with Gary Barber, Warner Bros., Lantern Entertainment and Cineworld.