DeAgostini buys Mikado, joins film biz


Italy's second-largest publisher is getting into the movie business, taking complete control of venerable art house distributor Mikado for an undisclosed sum, publishing giant DeAgostini said Tuesday.

Founded in 1901, DeAgostini trails only Silvio Berlusconi's Mondadori in the country's book and magazine publishing sector, and by taking control of Mikado, the company is aggressively wading into another sector where a Berlusconi-controlled company -- in this case Medusa -- is a market leader.

The company reportedly also is in talks to add TV production company Magnolia to its expanding portfolio. But it is the Mikado deal that is attracting headlines.

DeAgostini took a partial stake in the company in 2000 but had little to do with the day-to-day running of the company, with founding partners Roberto Cicutto and Luigi Musini continuing as managers. In the wake of Tuesday's move, Cicutto and Musini have stepped down from their management posts but will continue to work as producers for the company.

The new foothold in the Italian film sector isn't a first for DeAgostini, which produces limited television and cinema content through its DeAgostini Communicazioni subsidiary. The company also distributes films in Spain and some parts of Latin America under the name DeAPlaneta, a joint venture with Spain's Grupo Planeta. But the Mikado deal will give DeAgostini its biggest film-sector presence yet.