Prague's Barrandov Studios owner Moravia Steel announced last week that after a drawn out sale process that has stretched on for nearly a half-decade, it is not selling the fabled film complex after all.

A spokesperson for the steel maker told weekly Prague Business Journal that Moravia Steel has decided to pursue its own plans for developing the studio, but declined to elaborate. Meanwhile, Moravia Board supervisory board chair told leading Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes that the sale had been postponed for several years.

The decision is bad news for the Czech film business, says Matthew Stillman, owner of Prague-based Stillking Films, one of the bidders for the studios. 'It's unfortunate for the production industry, because it would have benefited from an injection of investment,' said Stillman.

Chrenek told Screendaily earlier this year that the steel maker was in no hurry to sell the profitable studio.

'A steel company only interested in taking money out of it and not putting it in is not beneficial for the production industry,' said Stillman, who has been increasingly vocal in his criticism of Moravia Steel in the past year.

Prague is in need of further investments to accommodate the slew of runaway U.S. productions that have chosen to shoot in the Czech capital to take advantage of the country's otherwise strong film infrastructure and low labour costs.

Though Stillman declined to say he had given up on buying Barrandov, he said, 'I don't know that we've been optimistic about it'. It could have been healthy and good for our company, but there are other things around.'

It is speculated that Moravia Steel is holding on to the profitable Barrandov in order to use it as a bargaining chip during negotiations with the Czech government for subsidies for the troubled Czech steel industry. Previously, Moravia Steel had said it wanted to sell Barrandov to focus on its core business.

Stillking apparently offered Moravia Steel the asking price, thought to be as much as $30-50 million. 'A few months ago they gave us a price, and we matched it,' he said. But the offer was still turned down, he said.

Representatives of Moravia Steel were not immediately available for comment.