Television

Kirch creditors okay US mogul Saban's ProSieben bid

FRANKFURT: Creditors of insolvent German media group KirchMedia have accepted US billionaire Haim Saban's revived bid to buy Germany's biggest broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media, a spokesperson for KirchMedia said on Tuesday. ProSiebenSat.1 Media brings dubbed versions of US shows such as Friends and Sex in the City into German homes.

KirchMedia?s major field of activity includes Free-TV, in which it operates five channels: Sat.1, ProSieben, Kabel 1, Deutsches SportFernsehen DSF and news channel N24 in Germany. KirchMedia is active on the European free-TV market as well, with holdings in Spain (Telecinco) and Italy (Mediaset).

In March this year, news agencies reported that Saban has made a deal to take control of ProSiebenSat.1, Germany's second-largest private broadcaster from KirchMedia. The deal would bring an outsider into Germany's media world, the bankrupt Kirch Group unit had stated. Finally, Saban's deal fell through when financing deadlines were not met. This time Saban has lined up several private equity firms as backers, German news media reports stated.

Saban, in partnership with France's Television Francaise 1, had emerged as top bidder for ProSiebenSat.1 after Germany's Bauer Verlag had dropped out. The two sides had not named a price and Saban was said to be negotiating its other major asset, the film and TV library. Saban is well-known in the US as head of the company that created the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television series. 

Earlier, there were talks that Italian Prime Minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, or billionaire Rupert Murdoch might bid for Kirch in bankruptcy proceedings -- a speculation that had led to concerns among some German politicians about foreign involvement. However, Saban's bid had not aroused similar criticism. 

Sources close to the talks have said that Saban bid 525 million euros ($595 million) for Kirch's 72 percent of ProSieben's unlisted but vote-wielding ordinary stock, valuing ProSieben at 1.3 billion euros.

Private equity firm Apax Partners said earlier it had submitted a higher bid.

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