Italy's Cecchi Gori Communications has confirmed that it is holding talks with Spain's Telefonica, one of eight potential partners, about selling a minority stake in the group or one of its subsidiaries. However president Vittorio Cecchi Gori denied that the group's beleaguered TV station TeleMontecarlo is up for sale.

Cecchi Gori has been seeking foreign investors for some time in a bid to shake off financial difficulties before next year's planned stock market flotation.

"We are looking for business or financial minority shareholders to back Cecchi Gori and its interests, including TeleMontecarlo," Cecchi Gori said at a press conference in Rome to unveil the company's 2000-2001 distribution slate.

Cecchi Gori managing director Marco Durandoni added that such alliances would allow the group to enter the stock market "without debts and in full tranquillity" and denied reports that the group is having trouble finding investment partners. "We have overcome some huge obstacles and don't expect to be faced with any more," said Durandoni, who has been in the top job since January.

With regards to future projects, Cecchi Gori said he would continue to invest in multiplexes, pay-TV and big-budget Italian films: "We must create a bigger market in Italy, so that we can reinforce our position abroad," Cecchi Gori said.

Cecchi Gori also confirmed that the company will release Jane Campion's Holy Smoke at the beginning of September. The company's distribution slate also includes three pictures acquired at Cannes this year: Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks, Heart Of Love, from Blair Witch Project duo Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, and Luc Besson's Taxi 2.

Other pictures on the company's 2000-2001 slate include Joel Schumacher's Flawless, starring Robert De Niro; The Faculty, directed by Robert Rodriguez; Istvan Szabo's Sunshine; Denti, by Mediterraneo's Gabriele Salvatores and Gianni Amelio's La Lista Nera.