Christophe Montague's days as executive board chairman of the debt-ridden German distributor Advanced Medien could be numbered following the appointment of a new supervisory board which is expected "to make key personnel decisions and initiate organizational measures regarding the future development of the company".
Advanced's previous supervisory board had resigned as of December 31 following DVD specialist e-m-s new media's acquisition of a 24.7% stake in December in order to take the new shareholder structure into account.
Thus, the new assembly includes three representatives from major shareholder e-m-s - Manfred Niewiarra, deputy chairman of e-m-s' supervisory board, e-m-s executive Christine Schoettle, and e-m-s CEO Werner Wirsing-Lueke - as well three former members, Prof. Dr. Alexander Hemmelrath (shareholder of Haarmann, Hemmelrath & Partner), Prof. Manfred Heid (Academy for Television & Film, Munich), and Peter Lindlbauer (banking firm Delbrueck & Co. Privatbankiers).
In the first two months of this year, Advanced had been forced to report at the beginning of February that it would not now reach revised sales of $33.5m (DM 70m) for 2000 and expected a loss of tens of millions of Deutschmarks.
Trading on Advanced's shares had been temporarily stopped at Frankfurt's Neuer Markt on the aftenoon of February 2; and Montague declared that, "in the medium term, in six months, there is no guarantee of the company's liquidity".
According to the business weekly Focus Money, among the problems troubling the Munich-based rights trader and distributor was a package of films acquired from Canal Plus for $7.2m (DM 15m), which had yet to be sold on to German television, and rising debts including $50.2m (DM 24m) alone due to the Cologne-based Delbrueck & Co private bank.
Advanced's shares rose by 15.89% to Euros1.24 at the end of trading on Friday March 2. The issue price in August 1999 had been Euros5.60 with an all-time high of Euros17.99
Speaking to Euro Am Sonntag, Montague confirmed speculation about his future: "I no longer discount a resignation". Clearly, there are differences of opinion between him and e-m-s on the future direction of Advanced, with Montague wanting to concentrate on production activities and cut back on rights trading. A decision on Montague's future may be taken before the end of this week.