Shares in beleaguered German media concern Intertainment soared by up to 14% yesterday (April 19) after it reached a settlement with Franchise Pictures' former president and COO Andrew Stevens on the eve of its lawsuit against Franchise and other parties.
A statement issued by Intertainment indicated that the settlement had included a payment by Stevens and that he would now no longer be a defendant.
In first reactions to this eleventh hour settlement between Stevens and Intertainment, German stock exchange observers suggested that it augured well for Intertainment's case against Franchise and other settlements might be just around the corner.
Intertainment's shares were up 14% to Euro 4.83 on the Hamburg Bourse, and up 7% to Euro 4.44 on Frankfurt's Xetra exchange
After three years of delays, the Intertainment vs Franchise trial is due to begin today (April 20) in Los Angeles. Intertainment is seeking damages of more than $100m against its former partner on the grounds of allegedly fraudulently inflated film budgets.
Intertainment's lawsuit had been directed against Franchise Pictures LLC, Franchise Pictures Inc., chairman and CEO Elie Samaha, Stevens, several production companies of the Franchise Group and other parties such as the Comerica Bank, Film Finance and Worldwide Film Completion.
German news agency dpa/AFX reported that an agreement had allegedly been concluded between Stevens and Intertainment some three years ago which would have seen the charges dropped against him if would be prepared to testify against his former employer Samaha. However, the existence of such an agreement had always been contested by Stevens and Franchise.
Observers were working on the assumption that the (undisclosed) level of Stevens' payment was "relatively small", but there was speculation that Stevens might now be called on as a witness for the prosecution.