Swiss media concern Highlight Communications has increased its stake in German distributor-producer Constantin Film from 23% to 25% and announced an agreement for cooperation on theatrical distribution in Germany.

Highlight increased its shareholding in Constantin on October 4 by acquiring shares on the stock market, which means that there has been no change in the interests held by Constantin's other major shareholders Bernd Eichinger (25%) and EM.TV & Merchandising AG (16.4%).

According to one stock market trader, Highlight's move gives the Swiss concern a blocking minority. Highlight's shares climbed 1.6% to Euros 1.17 on the news while Constantin's rose from Euro 3.22 to Euro 3.40.

The co-operation on theatrical distribution will see Constantin Film assuming responsibility for the release of Highlight films on the basis of a service agreement from January 1, 2003, with The Hours - starring Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep - and the Rob Schneider-starrer Harv, The Barbarian being the first films to be distributed under this new arrangement.

This is the second distribution co-operation entered into by Constantin Film after the arrangement with the RTL Group's theatrical arm Universum Film launched earlier this year to handle the booking and billing for such films as. K-PAX, K-19 and Basic.