The Tellux Group has become the major shareholder in the privatised former East German distributor Progress Film after Drefa Media Holding, a subsidiary of the Leipzig-based public broadcaster MDR, sold its 37.5% stake for an undisclosed six-figure sum.

With Drefa's exit, Tellux now has increased its stake from 37.5% to 60%, while Kinowelt Medien has raised its holding from 25% to 40%.

As Drefa managing director Juergen Vogel-Jahn told the media journal epd medien, "the sale of the Progress shares was already settled at MDR in December 1999" since the "main task of the privatisation of the DEFA film heritage" had now been reached. The new shareholder structure took effect as of January 1, 2001.

Progress holds global exclusive rights to more than 6,000 feature films, documentaries and animation films produced by the former East German state-run DEFA studios between 1946 and 1990. Drefa and Tellux had acquired the company from the East German privatisation body BVS in 1997. Kinowelt then joined as a shareholder at the beginning of 1998, although Tellux has been vocal in its criticisms of the German mini-major having "not fulfilled" the expectations that it would facilitate the theatrical exploitation of films from the Progress back catalogue.

epd medien quoted Tellux managing director Bernd Grote as suggesting that a new partner to replace Kinowelt was conceivable but, at the moment, negotiations about corporate policy would be undertaken "at first with Kinowelt".