The restructuring of German producer/distributorSenator Entertainment could be completed by the end of September, according toplans which will be presented at an extraordinary shareholders assembly nextweek by the court-appointed receiver Rolf Rattunde.
The restructuring plan would, in a first step,see the shareholders agreeing to a capital reduction of 90% in order to makethe way free for a new investor to come onboard with fresh capital
"The insolvency doesn't necessarily mean adeath warrant for the company. It can also signify a new beginning,"Rattunde explained. He pointed to a decision by Deutsche Bank's London unit tobuy loans amounting to Euros 168m ($ 206m) owed to a consortium of five Germanbanks had been "a positive signal for the restructuring plan."
At the beginning of June, the Deutsche Bankacquired the loans "to boost the company's value through the continuationof its operations and a refocussing on the main business."
"It was important for me and the managementto secure the continued existence of this company," Rattunde continued."We also want to see that we can keep the conglomerate of companiestogether and this can only work if one organises this in a humanly reasonablemanner and can offer people a perspective for the future. That means that wehave also kept up a dialogue with the [public] funding institutions with whomSenator had a good standing to keep them informed".
While potential investors are preferring toremain anonymous until the outcome of next week's shareholders meeting,Rattunde reported that there had been "enormous" interest: "wehave conducted endless discussions with investors from everywhere - America,Europe and Germany - and this was very encouraging. It sounded with all of themthat there was a genuine interest in securing the creative potential in thisconcern."
Moreover, Rattunde revealed that there were anumber of financial investors from Germany and elsewhere who had indicatedtheir interest in the company.
At the same time, Senator Entertainment's CEOChristopher Borgmann and CFO Ingo Stein both stressed that the operativebusiness of the distribution arm Senator Film Verleih and production unitSenator Film Produktion had been able to continue despite the mother company'sinsolvency.
Since insolvency proceedings were instigated,Senator has only offloaded the publishing company Europa Verlag which hadmaking losses for some time and was "of no strategic importance".Previously, filmmaker Joseph Vilsmaier had bought back Senator's share in hiscompany Perathon Film- und Fernseh GmbH.
As for Senator International, Rattunde said thatin the heat of the crisis people had asked what would happen to it and if itwas for sale. However, he said that people would have to wait until an overallinvestor was in place to see if they were interested in the international armor not.
Senator's current releases in the cinemasinclude the Danish film Old, New, Borrowed & Blue, Michel Gondry'sHuman Nature and a reprise of Soenke Wortmann's family drama The Miracle OfBern in 179 cinemas to tie-in with Euro 2004 and the 50th anniversary ofGermany's World Cup victory over Hungary in 1954. Miracle clocked upover 3.6m in its first theatrical run and has been nominated for three GermanFilm Awards this year.
Berlin-based Senator Entertainment had sought protection from creditors on April 7 after writedowns on some of its film assets. In March, it admitted that its share capital had been completely exhausted in writing down the film assets and investments.