A Vivendi subsidiary takes over the reins of Mars Films

Save the movies. This is what mainly motivated the judgment rendered on Wednesday August 11 by the Paris Commercial Court, which validated the recovery plan by way of continuation of the cinematographic distribution company Mars Films, by ceding the keys to the company to one of its shareholders, Vivendi Content.

Priority has clearly been given to the preservation of the catalog of nearly 200 films and to the conditions necessary for its continued exploitation. Even if the other usual criteria in this type of case do not weigh heavily. The eleven employees still in the company (they were 23 in 2019) will be made redundant. Only the CFO will ensure a transition for a few months. Moreover, “Unsecured creditors [ne disposant d’aucun privilège particulier] will only be very partially compensated ”, revealed the magazine French Film, Monday August 16.

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The deputy public prosecutor mentions in the weekly “An atypical plan, developed thanks to complex economic engineering”, while the receiver considers that this plan “Has for vocation only to minimize the damage, for the creditors, of the collapse of Mars Films”.

A liability valued “between 63 and 64 million euros”

This soap opera began over two years ago. Mars Films, which notably distributed The Spanish inn, by Cédric Klapisch (2002), or Million Dollar Baby, by Clint Eastwood (2004), was put into receivership on 1er August 2019. Subsequently, the commercial court extended the observation periods due to the health crisis linked to Covid-19. Several takeover bids were submitted, targeting all or part of the assets of the company headed by Stéphane Celerier and Valérie Garcia.

None of the proposals, whether they emanate from Intermediate Multimedia Artist and the Saint James financial company, the Eagle Pictures group, the Hildegarde holding (publisher of the French movie), Single Man Productions or Zazi Films, was not retained by the court. The latter, however, validated the continuation plan of Mars Films. He predicts that “May Holding [qui appartient à Stéphane Celerier, Valérie Garcia et Véronique Cuilhé] sells all of its shares [soit 70 % de Mars Films] to Vivendi Content ”. This Vivendi subsidiary, chaired by Maxime Saada, has held the remaining 30% since December 2015. It will therefore rise to 100%.

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The judgment assesses the liabilities of Mars Films “Between 63 and 64 million euros”. The subsidiary of Vincent Bolloré’s group has agreed to convert its 11.2 million euros of receivables into capital. And will pay a total of 17.3 million, including 11.6 million in repurchase of receivables from the VisVires investment fund and the Natixis Coficiné cinema bank. With, as a roadmap set by the court, the exploitation of the catalog, the reduction in the number of new films released in theaters each year and a serious brake on investments.

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