French state-owned studios and facilities group Societe Francaise de Production (SFP), which has been drowning in red ink for decades, has been acquired for $4.2m (Ffr30m) by Euromedia Television facilities house in partnership with Bollore Investissement.
The French government has been seeking to sell SFP -- which lost close to $11.2m (FFr80m) last year, despite being given a massive $301.5m (FFr2.15bn) cash injection in 1998 -- since 1996. Facilities house Euromedia (which had already attempted to buy SFP in 1996) and Daniel Lebard Management Development (DLMD) were the only two candidates left.
The takeover will involve the creation of SFP Holding, with 70% held by Euromedia and 30% by Bollore. The French government has pledged to pour $44.6m (Ffr318m) into SFP's coffers in order to help finance the restructuring plan (which could involve firing as many as 300 of SFP's 400-strong staff). However, this further cash injection will have to be approved by the European Commission, which has long frowned upon the French government's frequent attempts to bail SFP out of the red.
Euromedia, which is headed by Jean-Pierre Barry and registered $27.4m (Ffr195m) in sales last year, will inherit SFP's Boulogne and Bry-sur-Marne studios (14 stages, which, along with its own 12-stage operation, will make it the largest studio operation by far in the Paris region).