Bertelsmann Mulls White Knight Stake in KirchPayTV

18 April 2002

German media mammoth Bertelsmann is mulling the purchase of a minority holding in KirchPayTV, the lossmaking subscription television unit of tottering Kirch Gruppe, so insiders say.

Ewald Walgenbach, Bertelsmann’s chief operating officer, has in recent days been closeted with his KirchPayTV counterpart Georg Kofler. Their discussions “went well”, according to one mole.

An investment by Bertelsmann, a former partner of Kirch Gruppe in the pay-TV venture, would have an important psychological impact on the resuscitation of Kirch, although many believe it might not go down well with Bertelsmann subsidiary RTL Group which opposes any re-investment in pay-TV, arguing that it should instead concentrate on development of free-to-air broadcasting .

In any event, involvement by Bertelsmann would have to be within an overall rescue framework approved by Kirch’s minority shareholders and its creditor banks, who yesterday, reports Reuters, granted a working capital loan of €100 million ($88.83m; £61.51m).

Data sourced from: Financial Times and BrandRepublic; additional content by WARC staff