Ben Ammar up stake in Lux Vide


ROME -- Tarak Ben Ammar has indirectly increased his stake in Italian television content producer Lux Vide through a newly created holding company led by Italian banker Intesa Sanpaolo.

Ben Ammar, the Franco-Tunisian president of Paris-based Quinta Communications, has been steadily increasing his exposure to the Italian market in recent months.

In the second half of last year, for example, Ben Ammar acquired control of Italian distributor Eagle Pictures and bought a 10% stake in the animated content producer Rainbow.

With a 24% stake in Lux Vide, Ben Ammar had been the company's third-leading shareholder before the latest moves, behind the Bernabei family that founded the company in 1992 and owned 44% of its shares, and a company called Video Delta, which had a 35% share.

The Italian media has speculated for weeks that Ben Ammar was poised to increase his stake in Lux Vide, though it had always been reported that he would do so alone and not in concert with other investors.

But on Thursday, market regulator Consob reported that the new holding company operating under the name International Entertainment acquired Video Delta's 35% share.

Milan-based Banca Intesa Sanpaolo is the leading partner in International Entertainment, with at least 49% of the capital, according to financial documents. But the junior shareholders are the Bernabei family and Ben Ammar.

The result adds Banca Intesa Sanpaolo -- Italy's second-largest bank -- to Lux Vide's shareholders and it eliminates Video Delta. It also strengthens the positions of both the Bernabeis and of Ben Ammar, though it is not clear how the percentages break down after the changes.