Audiovisual Enterprises, the only publicly listed Greekentertainment media group, has bought out its rival Prooptiki.The acquisition worth $25.3m (21m Euros) places Audiovisual at the forefront oftheatrical distribution and further consolidates its lead position in video-DVDdistribution.

Prooptiki's former share holders, Managing Director Mitropoulos and deputy Irini Souganidou will head updistribution of the audiovisual content sector for the newly merged companyreporting to Audiovisual's President and CEO, Yiannis Kourtesis. Mitropoulos will also be on Audiovisual'sboard of directors forand is a major share holder of the company.

On a separate deal Mitropoulosisto retain 50%equity and management of Prooptiki'sBalkan companies.

Speaking to , Kourtesis saidthat "the absorption of Prooptiki will be finalisedby the end of this year fulfilling the company's strategic target to enter thearea of theatrical exhibition as well as strengthening the interaction betweenthe theatrical and video operations of Audiovisual".

The creation of the new company is expected to exertpressure on the other two local major entertainment media groups ( Odeon andVillage), as all three will be vying for control of the dwindling local filmexhibition market which is expected to register this year only 11 million admissions,a 25% decrease from the 14million registered last year.

Audiovisual's portfolio includes exclusive video licensee in Greece and Cyprus for Warner, Buena Vista, New Line, Miramax and Village.Its sister company On Productions is active in TV production.

Prooptiki, created and steered by PandelisMitropoulos, is the theatrical licensee for SonyPictures and Buena Vista as well as the video licensee for Sony which will shortlyinclude the distribution of MGM content. Prooptiki handles amongothers Discovery Channel and BBC material. Prooptiki also hasinterests in the Balkan countries via its sister companies ProoptikiRomania, Prooptiki Bulgaria ad Prooptiki Entertainment (Belgrade).