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Viacom to acquire 75.8 per cent of German music channel Viva Media

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MUMBAI: Global media giant Viacom that owns MTV has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Viva Media, its only German music television rival.

The estimated $373 million deal will be Viacom's largest outside the United States.

Making the announcements in Frankfurt, Viacom co-president and co-chief operating officer Tom Freston said: "The acquisition of Viva is a significant strategic initiative that would dramatically expand our position in Germany -- the biggest multi-channel TV ad market internationally and a key driver of MTV's European growth plans. In bringing together MTV and Viva as one family, our local management will create a more diverse and exciting programme offer for German TV audiences, while also tapping into the unique advantages of being part of our global network."

A group of 14 shareholders including Vivendi Universal and Time Warner have reportedly agreed to sell a 75.8 percent stake in Viva for E12.65 a share.

It is expected that MTV Networks Central Europe's managing director Catherine Muhlemann and Viva chief executive officer Dieter Gorny will be responsible for running the combined companies. Both will report to MTV Networks Europe's president and chief executive officer Brent Hansen.

Detailed plans for the combined businesses' management and structure will be developed by an integration committee that will include representatives from MTV and Viva, says a press release.

The Viva acquisition comes a month after MTV head Tom Freston was named co-president of Viacom with Leslie Moonves after the departure of Mel Karmazin. MTV operates music channels in countries including France, India and Poland. Viva operates two music TV channels in Germany and owns 51 percent of its Viva Plus TV channel, with the rest held by Time Warner, which has agreed to sell the stake to Viacom.

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