Boutique German TV producer H5B5, has bought a 25% stake in fast-moving US mini-conglomerate Unapix Entertainment.
The German outfit said: "this strategic shareholding is a very important step. It sustains [our] goal in selling high quality products on the US TV market and allows H5B5 Media to exploit all distribution channels."
The company said that it will buy two million shares at $2.00 each and top up its stake with further purchases through the stockmarket. H5B5 will take three seats on Unapix's 11 member board of directors.
The two companies have previously worked together and share a number of programmes including Unapix' Out There. H5B5's documentary series TimeSlot will be handled by Unapix in the UK and US.
Unapix is currently building a theatrical releasing operation Unapix Films Theatrical. Richard Abramowitz, its president, recently picked up Jon Shear's Urbania, a drama that was shown in competition at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and the marijuana documentary Grass, that was directed by Canadian Ron Mann and is narrated by Woody Harrelson.
Both companies are moving fast to expand their operations and distribution outlets. Last week Unapix has signed up with SightSound.com to handle its film slate on-line. The three year deal gives SightSound a non-exclusive slate of 20 titles from Unapix's 160-strong library.
Backed by a $40m revolving credit facility with GE Capital, Unapix Entertainment already distributes, produces and licenses what it terms "market-driven" feature films, television programming and special interest home video in all other media worldwide. SightSound claims to have been the first company to have managed on-line film rentals and this year will release a made for the internet feature.
H5B5, which is traded on Frankfurt's Neuer Markt stock exchange, last week bought half of Burgschmiet Verlag, a specialist film book publisher. The firm has publishing rights to all films from MGM in German and English-speaking territories and sees the relation with H5B5 as a ramp into the US.
These are the first moves by H5B5 since it floated in February. Its name is derived from "H" for high quality, "B" for broadcasting and 5 areas of activity; TV, film, Imax theatres, digital media and advertising.