Rainer Koelmel, co-chief of Kinowelt, has insisted that his expansion-minded German outfit is in good financial health and still on the acquisitions trail, for both product and companies - contradicting persistent talk around the MIFED halls that his company is facing a liquidity crunch.
Koelmel said that despite the plunging share price, Kinowelt is still very much in the buying game and has targeted Dutch distributor RCV as a potential purchase. "The only thing that this has changed is that we had been considering a share swap to buy RCV. Now we will have to use a different form of payment," Koelmel said. Other contenders for that company are thought to include Splendid, VCL, Canal Plus and Helkon.
"Utter nonsense" is how Koelmel dismissed talk here that Kinowelt is selling back to Warner Bros the titles it bought for TV resale last year as part of a multi-year package that was worth around $250m. While acknowledging that package remains unsold to Germany's consolidating group of commercial stations - where control is dominated by the CLT-Ufa and Kirch's ProSiebenSat1 monoliths - he ruled out speculation that he is under pressure to return the package at 50% of the price he paid.
"This is a deal that runs until 2012. We have not yet taken delivery of all the titles and we are seeing a growing number of holes in their schedules," he said.
Koelmel added that, although he recently abandoned plans to launch a Kinowelt channel, the company is building up an alternative network of regional and specialist broadcasters. Having already signed a $34m (DM80m) deal on the package with state-broadcaster ARD and licensed another package of films to NBC Giga, a technology-focused network which has until now steered clear of showing films, Koelmel has another trick up his sleeve: Kinowelt is close to securing distribution on a local Berlin station.
He added that next week he expects to complete the acquisition of the chain of eight multiplexes in Germany that are owned by Australia's Village Roadshow, another entertainment outfit that has had tongues wagging at MIFED following a plunging share price.