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Loonland looks at sale, merger options

TV Loonland, which reports nine-month financial results tomorrow, could be sold or merge with another company within months. The German-listed kids TV producer and distributor has renegotiated financing agreements that mean its debt pile is reduced and creditor banks take a stake in the company. Post restructure, senior management are examining the possibility of a partial or full sale, or a merger.

The refinancing deal was engineered by current CEO Simon Flamank. Under the terms of that agreement €14 million ($20.6 million) of Loonland’s €20 million debt will ultimately be written off for a 10% equity stake in the company.

The agreement was approved by shareholders this month. Proceeds from the sale of Loonland’s home entertainment business, Metrodome, will also go to creditors. Loonland has whittled the field of suitors down and an agreement, which will recoup about €2.5 million to €3 million, is expected before end-2007.

Management says the next step will be to look at Loonland’s future with news expected to be made public before MIP TV next April. "There are three choices for next year," CEO Simon Flamank told TBIvision. "Shareholders could put more money into the business to see it go forward. We are also asking do we want to merge? Or, do we want to sell?"

Meanwhile, legal action against former CEO Selma Kappel is being pursued. The relevant documents are with the German Public Prosecutions Office, which is expected proceed with criminal charges. Kappel is accused of financial improprieties during her stint as CEO, which came to an end in April last year.

Despite its financial issues, Loonland has carried on developing and selling series. It recently picked up animated series Penelope from Japan’s Nippon Animation and also presented another new project, Raymond, at MIPCOM market.