MBP, one of Germany's hottest film finance houses, is set to offer the public a slice of films by directors including Bruce Beresford, Iain Softley, Bob Rafelson and Andre Bonzel. The outfit, which controls a spread of tax efficient funds, plans a flotation within the next 18 months.

In the initial stage of a two-step process, MBP will invite on board Australian sales agent Beyond Films, UK production outfits jonescompany and Indigo Film, and Datty Ruth's German independent video company VCL Film + Medien. Alongside dubbing company ArtSynchro, they will each take stakes of 2.5%-5% in MBP Film, an intermediary holding company.

MBP's managing director Rainer Mockert said: 'having this pre-IPO structure gives us complete control and time to ensure that life is brought into this entity.'

MBP Film will serve as an umbrella for the existing MBP film investment fund, with an annual volume of between $26m-52m (DM50m-DM100m); an animation arm MBP Caricartoon, producing TV series for the international market; and merchandising wing MBP M&M.

The intermediary company will be directly involved in such activities as the production of IMAX films - such as Michael Caulfield's $4.9m Equus with Australia's Mullian Creek - music publishing, pre-financing for fund projects, event productions and dubbing services. However, Mockert stressed that there are no plans for MBP to establish an in-house theatrical arm.

MBP's $26m (DM 50m) Fund I has now delivered Kimble Rendall's Cut and the TV series Stingers 2 - which are both being handled internationally by Beyond. It is currently in production or post-production on Declan Lowney's Wild About Harry (aka Thanks For The Memories), produced with Scala Productions.

It is envisaged that Fund II with a volume of up to $52m (DM100m) will be launched by the end of March and involved as majority co-producer in some 20 international feature projects to shoot in 2000/2001.

The first films set to roll this March are Scott Reynolds' $2.1m (A$3.2m) Shearer's Breakfast which will be 100% financed by MBP, and Ray Lawrence's $3.9m (A$6m) Lantana, co-produced with Jan Chapman.

In April it starts John Goldschmidt's $10m Days Of Fear, co-produced with Goldschmidt's VIVA, and Bob Rafelson's $13.8m Deal Kings', starring Bridget Fonda and Billy Crudrup, co-produced with Jana Edelbaum's Janus Films and sold internationally by UGC.

Additional projects include Michael Jenkins' Fanatic Heart, jonescompany and Forthcoming Productions' psychological thriller Boathouse, to be directed by Iain Softley and, in August, Andre Bonzel's $4.8m (C$7m) Deeper Into Jennifer with Eleas Koteas, Deborah Unger and Jonathan Pryce.

Adam Minns in London and Sandy George in Sydney contributed to this report