Potsdam – A sudden turn, an uncertain future for the actors and a new character, unknown for the time being, whose exact intentions are not entirely clear – the developments surrounding the possible takeover of Studio Babelsberg would have a few ingredients for an exciting film. However, you only know how good it will be at the end.
So far it is clear that the Babelsberg film location is facing changes. A large US investment fund wants to take over the majority of Studio Babelsberg AG and make a takeover offer to the small shareholders shortly. Studio Babelsberg AG had sent a corresponding notification to Friday. The main shareholder of Studio Babelsberg AG, Filmbetriebe Berlin Brandenburg GmbH, had concluded an agreement with TPG Real Estate Partners (TREP) that should enable TREP to acquire a majority stake in Studio Babelsberg AG, it said.
Woebcken and Fisser should remain involved
The investor is the real estate subsidiary of the US mixed fund TGP based in Fort Worth, Texas. TPG was founded in 1992 and, according to its own information, currently manages assets of around 108 billion US dollars worldwide. TREP, in turn, has assets under management of 5.6 billion US dollars as a platform for real estate investments. Carl Woebcken, CEO, and Christoph Fisser, CEO of Studio Babelsberg AG, will continue to hold shares in Studio Babelsberg, according to TGP. The conclusion of the transaction is still subject to change.
So far, the investor has not had a direct connection to the film industry. However, TGP looks back on a comprehensive investment history in the media and entertainment industry, it said on PNN request. “The holdings include the Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the world’s largest talent agencies for film, television, music and sports, and Entertainment Partners, a leading provider of production and personnel management solutions for the entertainment industry.”
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The investor is confident: Studio Babelsberg offers studio quality on a Hollywood level. “Due to its location near the Berlin city center and the airport, the studio also benefits from an urban environment, a strong local talent pool and experienced film crews,” says Texas.
Investments and site expansion promised
“The management board and the supervisory board welcome this public offer and will support the investment”, Woebcken and Fisser were quoted in the announcement from Studio Babelsberg. “The network and financing options of TREP as well as the solid business basis of Studio Babelsberg will strengthen our position as a leading production location in Europe worldwide. Together we want to expand our location and secure investments in new technologies and production methods. ”Studio Babelsberg did not want to answer questions about the scope of the participation and the planned investments on Friday and referred to the offer documents, which would be published“ in due course ”.
4.10 euros per share are offered
The investors are a little more open, at least as far as the offer is concerned: “As part of the transaction, TREP is planning to make a public takeover offer to the shareholders of Studio Babelsberg AG for all outstanding shares for a cash payment of EUR 4.10 per share,” said it on PNN request.
Shareholder advocate calls for information
However, the offer can only be assessed more precisely when the offer documents are available, said Michael Kunert, spokesman for the protection association of investors in the PNN. Then one will see whether the offer reflects the value of the company. So far, many questions are unanswered. It is unclear what the investor’s goal is. At the most recent, merely virtual general meeting without the opportunity for shareholders to inquire, in which Kunert also participated, it was said that the property should be re-evaluated.
To what extent the offer documents provide information must be shown. Since Studio Babelsberg has not been listed on the stock exchange since 2016 and it is a voluntary takeover offer, the information does not have to be so detailed. The takeover offer alone does not bring any new money into the company, says Kunert. “I would like more information on whether and how investments should be made.”
Economics Minister Steinbach demands job guarantee
A possible foreign investor was reported for the first time at the beginning of September. Thereupon the directors of the Filmmuseum Potsdam Ilka Brombach and Christine Handke expressed concern. The possible new main shareholder is expected to meet his responsibility for the location, said Brandenburg Economics Minister Jörg Steinbach (SPD) on Friday.
In the next few years there should not be any layoffs of employees at Studio Babelsberg AG. The studio must be secured as a production location. “For this, money has to be taken into hand and invested wisely,” said Steinbach. You will contact the new main shareholder and rely on trusting cooperation as before.
The cradle of German film
The Babelsberg studio was founded in 1912 and claims to be the oldest large-scale film studio in the world and the cradle of German film. According to the 2020 annual report, the studio has 99 permanent employees, 337 project-related temporary employees and 15 trainees. At the beginning of September, the online portal wallstreet estimated the total value of Studio Babelsberg AG at 31.35 million euros. Carl Woebcken and Christoph Fisser took over the traditional company a good 17 years ago for the symbolic price of one euro. In addition, the French group Vivendi paid them start-up financing of 18 million euros.
Woebcken and Fisser brought Hollywood to Babelsberg, numerous well-known films were made in the studio, stars like Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Quentin Tarantino and Brad Pitt shot in Potsdam. Only recently, Europe’s largest LED wall was put into operation in the Marlene-Dietrich-Halle. With her, the studio wants to attract further productions.