Veteran film sales agent Christa Saredi is to shut up shop this Spring after more than two decades in the business.

The decision means the closure of the highly successful Zurich-based outfit that bears her name - World Sales Christa Saredi - as well as Orfeo Films International, a Cologne-based joint venture headed by Helen Loveridge and co-owned with Germany's Pandora Filmproduktion.

The move was announced by Saredi to clients over the Christmas-New Year break and will only become effective after a transitional period, extending to March at least. "Nobody is just walking out and shutting the door," said Saredi. Loveridge will attend the forthcoming Berlin festival, but neither company will make the trip to Cannes. Remaining rights are expected to revert in most cases to the films' producers.

In addition to their own personal reasons for having enough of the sales business, Saredi and Loveridge point to changes in the industry which make life as an independent ever tougher.

"Consolidation is a big factor. Competition is very tough and deep pockets are needed," said Saredi. Saredi, who has nurtured auteur directors including Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismaki, points to the growing difficulty of retaining talent, which previously stuck with regular production sales arrangements. Talent is now aggressively courted by other agents and sales and finance outfits which are part of multinational corporations.

"Several of the truly successful directors from our catalogue, and also some of the younger ones, look for new alliances for each project, others have found a home with companies that are bigger, or simply have deeper pockets."

She also said that with the indie arms of the major companies picking up sales territory or world rights on ever more films there are thinner pickings for specialist sellers.

Pandora Filmproduktion, owned by Reinhard Brundig and Karl Baumgartner, will now refocus its efforts on production. Loveridge, who is said to share Saredi's frustration with the current industry situation is "looking for fresh challenges in the film business".

Last week Orfeo announced that had sold US rights to Samsara, the German-Indian romantic drama that premiered at Toronto last year, to Miramax Films (Screendaily, Jan 9). Odeon Films bought the picture for Canada. Orfeo also added to the Asian release of Mira Nair's Golden Lion winner Monsoon Wedding, selling Japanese rights to Media Suits and Taiwanese rights to Sinomovie.