Paris-based Tarak Ben Ammar, head of the rights trading venture Quinta Communications, has teamed up with Italian entrepreneurs Riccardo Pisa and Raimondo Lagostena to re-open Dinocitta, the famous Rome studios built by producer Dino De Laurentiis in 1964.

Pisa, a real estate developer, and Lagostena, a Milan television entrepreneur, acquired the studio for Euros 35m from French bank Credit Lyonnais. The deal was made possible after the bank resolved a lengthy legal dispute with disgraced Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti, renowned for his take-over of MGM in the early 1990s.

The studios, which once housed John Huston's epic sword-and-sandal picture, The Bible, will undergo a Euros 10m restoration, which will begin within the next few days and will be completed at the end of September 2002.

The original structure of the studios, which has 5 stages and a huge back lot, will remain unchanged, Pisa said at a press conference on Jan 23, and the studio is expected to be partly operational within four months.

With Rome's famous Cinecitta studios located just across the river Tiber, however, Dinocitta developers said that they hoped the two studios would be able to collaborate, rather than compete.

Set on the outskirts of Rome and strategically located near the sea, countryside and mountains, Dinocitta had been completely abandoned 10 years ago - and little used since its heyday during De Laurentiis's 10-year ownership.

Pisa added that the studios, which will be managed by Ben Ammar's Italian company Roma Studios, would become a tourist attraction, with plans in place to build a multiplex cinema on the huge back lot, and possibly a cinema theme park.