StudioCanal has announced the completion of its 100% acquisition of German distributor Kinowelt. Speculation on the move had reached fever pitch last week when a Leipzig-based daily reported that the long-rumoured deal was imminent.

StudioCanal signed the acquisition contract on Wednesday with Michael and Rainer Kolmel, owners of Kinowelt. In a press release, StudioCanal said the deal 'marks another significant step in the growth of StudioCanal's European distribution network.' The company acquired UK distributor Optimum Releasing in May 2006.

Although the Leipzig paper cited a sale price of $102m (Euros 70m), StudioCanal chairman Olivier Courson told that because the actual fee is based in part on future performance, he could not specify what StudioCanal is paying.

Already boasting a 5,000 title library, StudioCanal will dramatically increase its catalog thanks to the 7,000 DVD titles held by Kinowelt. Courson said, 'This deal changes everything for us. We are now the only European operator present in the three major territories part of our ambition is to develop local production in each of the countries where we are present.'

Courson added that StudioCanal's 'really big ambition' is now to increase its involvement in international production. The chairman cited Wong Kar Wai's My Blueberry Nights as an example and said the company is also eager to partner with US majors and indies. 'We would like to become the privileged and trusted partner for our American friends,' he said before adding, 'We will now be in an ideal position given our direct involvement on the ground in the three major European territories.'

According to industry analysts, the revenues of the Kinowelt Group for the last financial year were anticipated to be on the same level as 2006 when turnover increased by over 35% to Euros 106.8m, with more than 50% being generated by the Group's home entertainment division.

'To partner with StudioCanal is an opportunity to join a well-known and financially powerful international group which will allow us to continue to expand our current business and be part of the strongest pan-European distribution company,' said Michael and Rainer Kolmel in a statement.

Both the Kolmels will continue as senior advisors to Kinowelt; Michael for strategy and Rainer for acquisitions.

(Martin Blaney in Berlin contributed to this story.)