Spanish media veteran Enrique Cerezo has taken a 16% stake in Barcelona-based distributor and producer Manga Films, underwriting a Euros 6m capital increase through his Video Mercury Films.

Separately, Manga has also signed a Euros 10m loan with the Catalan Finance Institute (ICF), boosting the company's current financial resources to Euros 12m, a figure anticipated to grow after year-end profits to Euros 17m.

The inflow of capital will go towards expanding both the distribution and production activities of the company. "We want to acquire bigger and more expensive films, but not necessarily more titles," Manga president Luis de Val told of the current 20-25, mostly US films it acquires each year.

Among the company's biggest pick-ups for 2003 were Gangs Of New York and John Travolta-starrer Basic. New releases for next year include Fanfan La Tulipe, Bruce Willis-starrer The Whole Ten Yards and Manga co-production Head In The Clouds.

Plans also include beefing up new production activities under VP Xavier Catafal from 3-4 co-productions this year and next to a greater number and 100% Manga productions in the future. Manga's global budget for acquisitions and production should grow by about $15m next year, de Val says.

Manga has courted various potential local and international investors over the last few years. In 2001, plans to sell a 60% stake to Telefonica media arm Admira fell through but led to a five-year, Euros 50m distribution arrangement with Telefonica-backed broadcasters Antena 3 and the now merged Via Digital.

A solid commercial distributor in Spain, Manga has recently made moves into the production sector under vice president Xavier Catafal. With a permanent staff of 70, the company posted a turnover in 2002 of Euros 48m.

Cerezo, who owns the rights to a vast library of more than 3,000 feature films, has co-produced such recent box office hits as Moscow Gold (El Oro De Moscu), Story Of A Kiss (Historia De Un Beso) and Mad Love (Juana La Loca). He is acting president of producers' rights' management organisation EGEDA.