Germany's Helkon Media, which earlier this year acquired 51% of the UK's Redbus Films Distribution, is eyeing stakes in its two other European partners, Italy's Eagle Pictures and Spain's Tri Pictures, as part of its on-going strategy to create an international distribution network.

The company also plans to fill the network out with strategic partnerships in France, Benelux and Scandinavia, territories that board member Mark Ramakers describes as "gaps in the map".

Speaking at Helkon's annual shareholders meeting in Munich today, Ramakers also said the company is looking to extend its existing co-operations with Buena Vista International for German theatrical and free/pay-TV distribution and with Columbia TriStar for German video distribution, to other, unspecified, territories.

Helkon unveiled a network of distribution partners, including Redbus, Eagle and Tri Pictures, at Cannes this year, which it said would jointly release movies from Hollywood producers as well as originate big-budget pictures that can shoot in Europe.

Helkon formalised its relationship with Redbus in October by acquiring a majority stake in the company, but is likely to acquire a smaller share of Eagle, which is planning an IPO, and Tri Pictures. In an interview with Financial Times Deutschland, Helkon co-founder Martin Heldmann said the company is unlikely to make any major acquisitions in the current financial climate.

Helkon remains bullish about building its network despite the recent meltdown on Frankfurt's Neuer Markt, where the company is listed, and the tragic loss, last month, of co-founder Werner Koenig in a location scouting accident. Quizzed by a shareholders' representative on the company's future following Koenig's death, Heldmann said that he felt "more than ever called upon to run the company" and reiterated the intention to "continue our strategy of running the company as an independent enterprise".