European animation television vets Justin Hatfield and Cathy Laughton are teaming with Hungarian toon studio Varga to flex its international muscle. The two will handle presales across Europe, finance and distribution for Varga, as well as seek out co-production and partnering opportunities on new projects. Varga CEO, Andras Erkel, has set them upon securing int'l pre-sales for BJORN BEAR, a Varga, Happy Life (Sweden) and WDR (Germany) co-production. Based on the book by Sven Nordqvist, this pre-school series follows the amusing adventures of Bjorn the bear, whos not the sharpest bear in the pack, but has a big appetite for information and an unusual talent for invention. In addition to working on an extensive slate of TV projects, Varga is also seeking partners for a new animated feature film project. Over the last 15 years, Justin Hatfield has worked for a raft of major TV companies including The Walt Disney Company, Sony Pictures International and BBC Enterprises. Based in Madrid, he is handling international pre-sales and distribution for Europe. London-based Cathy Laughton, who is focusing on the UK and Ireland for Varga, has also worked for a string of top tier TV production and distribution companies including Nelvana, HIT Entertainment, The Jim Henson Company and Polygram. Varga (www.vargagroup
) is one of Europes premiere animation studios, which has grown from a small Budapest-based company established in 1989 to a largely U.K.-owned, major international player. The group has its main studios in Budapest and satellites in the Hungarian countryside, Moscow, Sofia and Bratislava. Varga has notched up an impressive production and co-production track record, including: MR BEAN (52 episodes), a Tiger Aspect/ Richard Purdum/Varga co-production, LISA (39 episodes) co-produced with Happy Life (Sweden), KIPPER (78 episodes) for HIT Entertainment/Grand Slamm, BABY BLUES (pilot & 4 episodes) for Warner Bros and PRESTON PIG (26 episodes) for CITV in association with Link.