Prisa shareholders approve investment by US group Liberty

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Indebted Spanish media giant Prisa said its shareholders have approved a plan under which US investment group Liberty Acquisitions Holdings will inject some 650 million euros (860 million dollars) into the company.

"Prisa's shareholders have approved a capital increase whereby the company will receive 650 million euros in cash and Liberty's investors will become Prisa shareholders," the company said in a statement late Saturday.

Under the agreement between the two firms first reached in March, family members related to Prisa's founder, Jesus de Polanco, will see their holdings fall to about 35 percent from 70 percent in exchange for the cash injection.

But Prisa's current "shareholder of reference will retain control over the company and is guaranteed the continuity of management," Prisa emphasized Saturday.

After the deal, the company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Liberty shareholders last week gave the green light to the deal at an extraordinary general meeting in the United States.

Prisa said its shareholders Saturday also agreed to allow seven new directors onto the board, including Liberty's Nicolas Berggruen and Martin Franklin.

"This operation, along with the disinvestment plan and the agreements with strategic partners in its publishing and audiovisual business, will enable Prisa to convert itself into a high technological, consumer-oriented company and continue its expansion in international markets, particularly the United States, Brazil and Mexico," it said.

Prisa owns Spain's leading daily El Pais as well as other major newspapers and interests in television, radio and digital platforms in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, where it generates about a fifth of its annual revenues.

But the company, founded after Spain returned to democracy following the death of military dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, has been seeking fresh capital since early this year to refinance its debt of nearly 5.0 billion euros (6.5 billion dollars).

It posted a first-half net profit of 60.9 million euros, more than double the amount of year earlier but this was due mostly from the sale of assets.

© 2010 AFP

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