Budapest buy for A Company

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BERLIN -- East European distribution group A Company has taken a minority stake in Hungary's Budapest Film, the firms will announce Thursday.

As part of the deal, A Company and Budapest Film will launch a Pan-European joint venture, adapting Budapest's VOD platform FilmKlik for all of Eastern Europe.

"FilmKlik is up and running in Hungary, so we have no development costs, the system is there and it works,” A Company head Alexander von Dulmen said. "We will just adapt it to all our markets, from Poland to Lithuania to Bulgaria to, eventually, Russia."

Said Peter Bognar, co-managing director of Budapest Film, "Both partners intend to develop FilmKlik Europe to become one of the leading VOD platforms in Central and Eastern Europe very soon. Together with local partners in each territory, we are able to approach costumers in reflection of the different national taste, cinematic tradition and marketing strategies."

Initially, A Company will load the platform will all of the titles from its licensing arm, Eastern European Acquisition Pool.

The agreement is part of A Company's longer-term strategy of shoring up its distribution business by buying strategic stakes in Eastern European firms. The first wave of the expansion will target the 10 eastern states that have recently joined the European Union.

"Being part of the EU means we have certain legal protections in these countries that we don't have outside of them,” von Dulmen said.

But the booming Russia market remains A Company's biggest revenue generator even though rampant piracy there makes the territory a nightmare for rights-holders.

Von Dulmen recently extended its distribution agreement with Russia's Cascarde Film in a two-year agreement that will see Cascarde release 15 A Company titles.
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