Italian distributor Eagle Pictures plans to make several big-budget acquisitions at this year's AFM following an investment boost from private equity financier B&S and the appointment of former SACIS chief Giampaolo Sodano as president.

B&S Private Equity Group has taken a 20% stake in Eagle which is gearing up to float on the Italian stock exchange before the end of the year. B&S has a co-investment agreement with Italian Private Equity Fund III, a $300m fund aimed at investments in the media and communications field over a four-year period. Eagle plans to draw on the fund to acquire high-profile pictures and increase its share of the highly competitive Italian distribution market.

Meanwhile, Sodano, formerly president of SACIS, the sales arm of public broadcaster RAI, and more recently managing director of private channel Canale 5, has been named president of Eagle Pictures. Co-founders Stefano and Ciro Dammicco become chief executive officer and vice-president respectively. UIP theatrical sales manager Ernesto Grassi is also moving to Eagle to take up the same post.

Founded in 1986, Eagle Pictures' activities embrace theatrical, television and video/DVD. Its most recent acquisitions include Summer Of Sam, The Cube, Do Not Disturb and What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted' It has television output deals with several international sales companies including Alliance Atlantis, Endemol, Hamdon and World International Network.

Eagle has also produced several features, mostly for television, including Framed, starring Daniel Baldwin, and two English-language projects with broadcaster RAIDUE, Prime Time Murder and Deadly Compromise.