Swiss rights trader Highlight Communications has revealed that it is close to finalising a deal to buy 23% of German distributor-producer Constantin Film from KirchGroup's KirchBeteiligung unit.

In a statement, Highlight said that the cash and shares deal, which was worth some $30m, would be completed in the next few days.

Constantin and its major shareholders, Bernd Eichinger and EM.TV welcomed the move, asserting that its film rights deals with the Kirch Group would remain unaffected. In a statement, EM.TV added that it was not interested in selling its 16.4% stake in Constantin. Eichinger holds approximately 25%.

Shares in Neue Markt-listed Constantin rose 16% to Euros 6.70 at the news, while Highlight's shares gained 4.9% to Euros 2.78 and EM.TV's stock rose 2.2% to Euros 1.39.

Separately, Constantin reported a 2002 first quarter net profit of Euros 2.8m, after tax on income and minority interests, compared to a net loss of Euros 6m for the same period last year. It also reported a 66% rise in first quarter sales to Euros 36.8m from last year's Euros 22.1m.