Romanian powerhouse MediaPro has agreed to buy 50.1% of shares in UK distributor Metrodome.

The deal was done with Germany's TV-Loonland, which was formerly Metrodome's parent company.

'They want to move into Western Europe and the UK,' says Metrodome CEO Peter Urie told Screen about Metrodome's new backer.

Each share was bought for 2.62 UK pence (the stock is listed on the UK's AIM). 'That was a 16.4% premium on yesterday's closing price,' Urie noted. With the number of shares totalling 60,479,675, that puts the 50.1% deal price at $3.07m (£1.58m) and values Metrodome at about $6.22m (£3.2m).

'This is one of the most significant developments since the company's inception,' Urie said. 'It's a very large company to support us, and looking to use us to expand new business. They want to expand rapidly in Western Europe. We'll also be looking at working with them on more production as well.'

Bucharest-based MediaPro was founded in 1991 by Adrian Sarbu. The company has entertainment, new media/telecom and print media divisions. The Media Pro Group's combined 2007 sales are Euros 93m.

'I'm really happy we're announcing this during Cannes -- now we have a shopping list out here,' Urie told Screen. 'We've already identified a few suspects and we're ready to buy. We should have several acquisitions to announce by the end of Cannes.'

Both MediaPro and Urie of Metrodome said they hope that shareholders will want Metrodome to retain its listing on London's AIM. The public offer will remain open for 21 days, and after that TV-Loonland's remaining 11.6% sshare will be acquired by MediaPro at the same price or sold in the market.

Urie will remain as CEO of the Metrodome Group. Loonland's Simon Flamank will step down as chairman of Metrodome as the deal closes, and he will be replaced by Mark Webster, who is currently vice president of Business Development of Media Pro.

In a statement, Urie added: 'Media Pro intends to work closely with Metrodome to realise the strategic objective of building a distribution business that reaches into Central and Eastern Europe and is a natural extension of what Metrodome is doing in the UK. In addition, Metrodome will have access to enhanced production capability through Media Pro's extensive studio assets.

'To achieve this, Media Pro plans to invest capital and contribute operational assets such as film distribution, home video distribution, cinema operations and internet operations. Media Pro hopes to create beneficial relationships between the two companies that enhance each other's capabilities and geographic presence.'

Vice president of Business Development of Media Pro Mark Webster added: 'One of Media Pro's strategic objectives is to develop its business in the UK and Europe, expanding from its existing operational base in Romania. Media Pro sees Metrodome as a suitable vehicle for such growth and we intend to work closely with Metrodome to realise the strategic objective of building a European distribution business. Media Pro also sees the potential for growth through Metrodome making acquisitions in the media sector that complement its activities as suitable opportunities arise.'

TV-Loonland CEO Flamank said: 'We are delighted with MediaPro's involvement now in Metrodome and wish both parties every success for the future.'

Metrodome's past releases in the UK include Donnie Darko, Monster, Indigenes, The Banquet, Away From Her, and The Counterfeiters.