German animation producer and distributor BKN International (BKNI) has acquired specialist French cartoon house Studio Arles Animation. Arles' boss Daniel Schwall is to join BKNI as its head of production.

Stockmarket-traded BKNI said the deal: "is the first step of BKNI's expansion strategy in the production side of the business' and enhances BKNI's position in the European marketplace." Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a statement noted that it covered all assets and production capabilities.

Arles has produced cartoons for all the major French TV networks and co-produces with, and sub-contracts, for Walt Disney Co subsidiary DIC Entertainment. Its credits include Ravenburger Entertainment's Alex series and DIC's Wacky World Of Tex Avery.

Arles is expected to be immediately involved in BKNI's animated TV movie Kong, King Of Atlantis, now in production, and will design BKNI series Keystone Kops.

BKNI expects to continue its European expansion through further strategic developments and is currently planning to open a licensing and merchandising office in London and to add new production facilities near its headquarters in Cologne.