In a bid to increase its production financing firepower, German distributor Advanced Medien has acquired a 40% stake in local sales agent Europool.

Europool is currently controlled by Telepool, a sales and production outfit owned by the country's wealthy public TV companies.

In a statement, Advanced said that by 2004 Europool will be involved in the financing of 26 features with average budgets of $45m but declined to pinpoint the source of these pictures. Sources close to the company suggested that Europool has some $243m (DM500m) to invest in productions and that the films will be additional to those flowing from Advanced's existing relationships with US producers.

In recent months Advanced has struck a five year arrangements with Wolfgang Petersen for two films a year in the $40m-$80m range and in it May bought 51% of Unified Film Organization (UFO), a five year-old Los Angeles-based production and sales operation specialising in high concept video and TV movies run by Phillip Roth, Jeff Beach and Ken Olandt.

Europool is a partner in Berlin Animations Fonds, a $73m fund producing high quality animation.