Two potential buyers - Daniel Lebard Management Development and facilities house Euromedia Television with Bollore Investissement - have emerged for ailing French state-owned studios and facilities group Societe Francaise de Production (SFP).

Unless one takes over the massive organisation, the only other alternative appears to be a management buyout led by five members of SFP's top brass. The three possibilities are still being reviewed by the French ministry of culture, along with Paribas Bank.

The successful bidder may not be announced before September 2001, instead of July, as was originally planned.

The French government has been trying to offload SFP, which has been drowning in red ink for years, since 1996. The company lost close to $10.5m (FF80m) last year, despite having received a massive $282m (FFr2.15bn) state cash injection in 1998.

Unions have been blaming over-capacity in the broadcast facilities sector and growing competition from abroad, whereas industry observers claim that over-staffing has been responsible for spiraling costs.