Axel Springer Explores TV Option

22 April 2005

German newspaper publisher Axel Springer is reportedly ready to increase its stake in the country's biggest TV broadcaster, ProsiebenSat.1.

The TV company's majority owners, led by US-based billionaire cartoon king Haim Saban, and its creditors have apparently removed obstacles to an early sale.

ProsiebenSat.1 had been part of the Kirch media empire until its collapse in 2002. A majority shareholding was then acquired by the Haim-led consortium P7S1, which, it is claimed, will pay creditors €11.4 million ($15m, £7.8m) to remove the lock-up clause.

Axel Springer, which has an 11.8% stake in ProsiebenSat.1 and publishes the Bild newspaper read daily by twelve million Germans, is keen to expand its broadcasting horizons and compete seriously with multimedia rival Bertelsmann.

According to sources it is prepared to offer around €1.5bn to gain a majority share of the TV broadcaster, although no one is prepared to elaborate officially.

The only comment from P7S1 is: "We are not in any sale negotiations regarding ProSieben. We are committed to supporting the company and its management in its continued success and growth."

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff