Italian production houses to merge ops

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ROME -- Italy's two largest digital studios and special effects houses on Thursday announced a strategic alliance that officials say will ultimately result in a merger.

Cinecitta Digital -- the digital production lab run by Italy's 70-year-old Cinecitta Studios -- is combining forces with Proxima, a Rome-based special effects company that has helped produce about 250 films since it was founded in 1991.

According to Cinecitta Digital director Fabio Filoni, Thursday's partnership deal between the sector's two most important players is the start of a "fusion" that will eventually lead to combined operations.

"This is just the first step," Filoni said in a telephone interview, adding that it was too early to speculate about how long the complete merger might take to complete.

It is not clear whether the eventual merger of the two largest players in the sector will spark competition-related concerns, and a spokesman for Italy's antitrust regulator declined comment on the matter.

A joint statement released Thursday said that the alliance between the companies will allow them to more effectively compete for work on international projects.
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