Spanish distributor-exhibitor Lauren Films has appointed Francesc Guardans as its new CEO to run the day-to-day operations of the company, whose financial difficulties have led to takeover talks in recent months.
Guardans' most pressing task will be to ask for time and support from creditors, banks and suppliers - including Miramax, whose longterm relationship with Lauren is understood to be on the rocks, but not yet officially terminated - to review the accounts and the organisation, and define a strategy for grappling with the company's million-dollar debt mountain.
"Working out a deal with Miramax is one of my top priorities and I hope we can come to an agreement for both sides," Guardans said.
He added that a sale of part or all of the business, such as a sale of a majority stake to Spanish media giant MediaPro mooted earlier this year, was not an immediate priority.
A lawyer and former publishing executive, Guardans will provide a new guiding hand and public face for the company. His appointment was a unanimous decision by the board, of which Lauren founder and industry veteran Antonio Llorens remains chairman. KMPG executive Oriol Huguet was also appointed to the board.
"We are definitely counting on the support of the banks, on the Catalan government - which has been very helpful until now, and on our suppliers to make sure that we come out of this situation and get back to where we've always been - a sound, profitable and good operation," Guardans said.
Lauren recently received a loan, estimated at Euros 5m, from the Catalan government-backed Finance Institute.
But the loan will only make a small dent in the company's debt. If a company of Lauren's size collapses it could have wide repercussions, especially in Catalunya where it is headquartered.
The distributor and exhibitor, partner in the country's largest cinema chain, posts a turnover of Euros 100m annually and has a reported 800 direct employees.