Los Angeles-based worldwide entertainment consultant The Steel Company has signed on to handle acquistions and market liaison for Brazilian distributor-exhibitor Playarte, headed by president Otelo Bettin Coltro.

According to Steel Company vice president Patrick Aluise, Playarte will be looking to acquire Brazilian rights to around ten high-profile theatrical features and up to twice as many home video titles at Cannes.

Like Brazil's economy, Playarte has bounced back from hard times, thanks to its thriving exhibition business and the admissions surge in Brazil, expected to grow from 70 million in 1999 to about 80 million this year. Playarte owns more than 40 screens, ranking fifth among exhibitors in Brazil.

"Sellers are not taking into account the sharp currency devaluation Brazil has suffered; their asking prices are still too high," Aluise said. Brazil's currency, the real, plunged in January 1999 and currently stands at 1.7 to a dollar, down from about 1.3 before the devaluation.

The Steel Co, led by Gordon Steel, also represents leading Colombian distributor-exhibitor Cine Colombia.