Senator does shareholder shuffle

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COLOGNE, Germany -- There has been a shareholder shuffle at German producer-distributor Senator Entertainment.

HSW, the investment group headed by new Senator bosses Helge Sasse and Marco Weber, on Thursday announced a deal to buy up Senator shares controlled by Deutsche Bank and various institutional investors with ties to the Bank.

HSW picked up 4.5 million shares in Senator along with a call option for 1.6 million more, or 30% of the company's stock.

HSW has sold off the bulk of the new shares to private investors. Consultant Roland Berger took a 10% stake in Senator, making him the company's single largest shareholder. Former Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Middelhoff, now a Senator board member, boosted his stake and now controls 4.75% of Senator. Other new investors include Senator board members Wolf Dieter Gramatke and Arnold Bahlmann.

HSW now controls 36.85% of Senator. Berger holds 10%, and 34.28% is held by various private and institutional investors including Michael Roth and Brian Stark of Stark Investments and Shepherd Investments International. The remaining 18.9% of the company stock is in free float.

Senator is an independent film producer-distributor. Once one of the leading players in the German market, the company filed for insolvency protection in 2004. HSW beat out other bidders to take control of Senator in late 2005 and has been slowly rebuilding the company using a combination of in-house German-language productions and such U.S. acquisitions as "Brick," "Shortbus" and "Hard Candy."
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