Oslo City Council agreed this week to sell its 50.7% stake in Norway's oldest distribution outfit, Kommunenes Filmcentral (KF), to the company's staff for $51,300.

The distributor is now waiting to hear if its other shareholders, which include about 40 other Norwegian municipalities, will follow suit. Two other companies - Oslo-based film publicity and consultancy firm Kulturmeglerne and production outfit Merkur Film - have also expressed interest in buying KF.

The municipalities decided to bail out of KF earlier this year after it lost 95% of its product, because two of its biggest suppliers - 20th Century Fox and Buena Vista - opened their own offices in Norway.

"We are now waiting for the rest of the shareholders to decide what to do with their shares. It is a complicated bureaucratic procedure, but still a pure formality since the Oslo City Council has chosen to sell to staff," said KF chairman Hans Svelland.

"We believe the company has good enough resources and reputation to survive, even though distribution alone will not be enough. We therefore plan to establish a consultancy service as well," Svelland said.

Established in 1919, KF accounted for 26% of the Norwegian distribution market in 1999.