Brothers Michael and Rainer Koelmel are back in the driving seat at Kinowelt after their bid to take over the running of the group's core interests was accepted by a committee of creditor banks.

At a meeting in Munich on Friday (August 9) insolvency administrator Dr Wolfgang Ott, acting for the creditor committee of ABN Amro Bank, BHF Bank and HypoVereinsbank, chose the Koelmels' bid over a rival management buyout (MBO) offer submitted by Kinowelt Medien executives Marcus Schoefer and Jerry Payne. Ott said the Koelmels bid contained "better proofs of financing."

While the MBO bid had reportedly offered Euros27.5m ($26.7m), the Koelmels had bid Euros32m ($31m) after securing the backing of the Deutsche Kreditbank, Stadtsparkasse Leipzig, Munich-based producer Openpictures, the investment group MK Beteiligungsgesellschaft and Rainer Koelmel's production outfit Starhaus Produktionen (producer of the Scottish film Daybreak).

Ott said that he would begin negotiations "in the short term" on the takeover with the Koelmel investor group, and the banks have declared in writing that they will carry through the necessary release of securities and liens which is a prerequisite for the signing and coming into force of the sales contract.

Speaking to at the weekend, Jerry Payne said that he and partner Marcus Schoefer were "absolutely astonished that a binding decision made four weeks ago can be summarily overturned. Our lawyers are examining the situation and we shall decide what steps to take.

"Far from settling the issue, this latest decision has merely heightened employees' anxiety over their future", Payne added, pointing out that Schoefer and he "continue to be committed to the company, to the people who work for it, and to Munich".

The investor group headed by the Koelmels, on the other hand, has refused to give job guarantees for employees of Kinowelt in Munich and has indicated that it intends to relocate the company to Leipzig in a move that could affect up to 70 jobs.