Barbarians Buy European Broadcaster SBS

24 August 2005

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, the US private equity group whose predatory takeover methods were immortalized in 1990 by the best-selling book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, has agreed to purchase Luxembourg-headquartered SBS Broadcasting.

SBS, which operates in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary, Greece and Romania, owns sixteen advertising-funded TV channels, 21 pay-TV channels and eleven radio stations.

Its acquisition is something of a coup for KKR's new kid on the European block, Lord Clive Hollick, former supremo of London-based United Business Media. It is the first major deal struck under his tutelage.

Also involved in the €1.69 billion (€1.38bn; £937.77m) deal is Permira Funds, a leading European-based private equity firm.

Coos SBS Broadcasting's founder and executive chairman Harry Sloan, who will walk away from the completed sale with around €170m: "I feel it is an outstanding deal for shareholders."

One such delighted investor is none other than Rupert Murdoch's nemesis-in-waiting John C Malone, whose Liberty Media stands to scoop around $340m on completion of the sale.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff