German children's animation producer and distributor BKN International (BKNI) is in final talks to acquire an animation studio in the US by the end of this year as part of its ambitious strategy of international expansion.

Speaking at this week's shareholders' meeting, CEO Nadia Nardonnet said that in addition to the Stateside plans, the company aims to have a production presence in Japan by the end of 2001/beginning of 2002. It is also planning to set up an animation production centre in Cologne where BKNI is based.

BKNI has traded on Frankfurt's Neuer Markt since mid-March 2000 and raised $60m from the flotation to invest in increasing its Europe-based production capacity and to finance the opening of a branch office in London to handle licensing and merchandising activities.

News of BKNI's international expansion comes just a week after rival children's programme specialist TV Loonland announced that it gained a foothold in the potentially lucrative Asian market by taking a majority stake in Korean video and DVD distributor Saerom Entertainment (ScreenDaily, December 13).