Tarak Ben Ammar has withdrawn his efforts to acquire France's Éclair laboratories, according to reports.

Reasons given for the move were deteriorated economic conditions and certain delays imposed by the competition authorities.

Ben Ammar, who already holds 43% of the post-production facility, said in December that he would purchase the remaining 57% for $20m (Euros 13m) from investment fund ETMF2.

The acquisition would have given him control of all of France's film labs - Eclair, LTC, Scanlab, GTC and LNF - an achievement the mogul has intended for quite a while.

When the deal was announced late last year, some in the industry did not react so favorably.

Culture minister Christine Albanel said in a press release that she was concerned by the 'concentration' and that she would be speaking with Ben Ammar regarding the consequences of the deal on the rest of the industry. Further, ARP, which represents French writers, directors and producers; the SACD, the French writers' guild and the SRF, a directors union said in a release that they were also worried by the deal at the time.

In response, Ben Ammar reassured the industry in February that he recognised a 'cultural responsibility' in his takeover of the country's post-production sector. He also offered to maintain 'a policy of conservation, restoration and management of (France's) cinematic heritage, entirely located in France.'

Agence France Presse reported yesterday that the competition authority was set to pronounce itself on the acquisition this autumn. Ben Ammar said the delays along with the economic evolution of the market had 'introduced too many uncertainties on the initial project.'

However, he also told the wire service that he could reverse his decision by the end of the year. 'Film represents 50% of lab costs and it is going up with the rise in oil prices.'

He added, 'At the end of the year I will decide in function of the state of the economy, the industry and Éclair and I'll either enter, or not, another dossier. I don't exclude the possibility but I don't guaranty it either.'