Foreign media companies interested in ProSieben

13th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 January 2006, MUNICH - Several media companies from outside Germany are interested in bidding for Germany's number three commercial TV network, ProSieben, after signs that it may have to be sold to satisfy monopoly authorities, industry sources said Friday.

13 January 2006

MUNICH - Several media companies from outside Germany are interested in bidding for Germany's number three commercial TV network, ProSieben, after signs that it may have to be sold to satisfy monopoly authorities, industry sources said Friday.

A spin-off of ProSieben, which is aimed at viewers under 50 and had an average audience of 6.7 per cent in Germany last year, could reduce the weight of its mother group, ProSiebenSat.1, and ease its takeover by Axel Springer, Europe's biggest newspaper group.

Under this scenario, Springer would only obtain control of Sat.1, a channel which is aimed at middle-brows of all ages and had a 10.9-per-cent share of Europe's biggest TV audience, as well as three minor channels, Kabel eins, Neun Live and N24.

Ulf Boege, head of the Federal Cartel Office, has suggested that the emergence of a third major commercial telecaster would benefit the German advertising market and compensate for the new power of Springer.

The other main existing commercial TV group is RTL, controlled by Germany's Bertelsmann. Germany's two main public-owned channels, ARD and ZDF, also carry advertising, but the amount is rationed.

The industry sources said exploratory talks had already begun with companies seeking a foothold in Germany, but were still at an early stage. This week, analysts suggested ProSiebenSat.1 might receive between 800 million and 1 billion euros for ProSieben alone.

If Springer were to take over the rest of ProSiebenSat.1 from its controlling shareholder, U.S.-based Haim Saban, the purchase price would thus be much reduced.

The Bonn-based Cartel Office insisted anew that the transaction must take place in the order of a split first and a Springer takeover second. Boege told the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung there would be no consent to a transaction in the opposite sequence.

The Financial Times reported Friday that Saban and Springer chief executive Mathias Doepfner were set to hold crisis talks next week, with the German company worried that it would be forced to pay 25 million euros (30 million dollars) monthly starting January 23.

That sum was set out in their contract as a late-payment penalty, according to sources quoted by the Financial Times.

The same newspaper said possible alternative buyers for the whole ProSiebenSat.1 group included TF1 of France, SBS of Scandinavia with backing from financial vehicle Permira and CME, the broadcasting group controlled by Ronald Lauder.

DPA

Subject: German news

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