Columbia TriStar, Commerzbank, WAZ Plan Bid for KirchMedia

11 June 2002

Plans to launch a joint bid for the core assets of KirchMedia – flagship unit of declining German media empire Kirch Gruppe – are reportedly being hatched by Sony-owned US movie studio Columbia TriStar, German newspaper publisher WAZ Gruppe and Commerzbank, Germany’s third biggest bank.

KirchMedia, which holds lucrative film and sports rights contracts and a 52.5% stake in broadcast giant ProSiebenSat.1, recently filed for insolvency. The unit is expected to be put into formal administration – preventing a rescue package from minority shareholders – later this week, at which point all its contractual obligations will become void.

Columbia, WAZ and Commerzbank are believed to be discussing an early bid, possibly as soon as this week. Under the proposed deal, Columbia would take 20% of the company and the two German bidders 40% each. However, financial terms are still being discussed.

If the trio are successful, it will be the first time a foreign media firm has gained a significant say in a major German broadcaster (ProSieben), though the presence of two domestic bidders in the offer should sweeten the pill for German politicians.

Commerzbank’s board must first vote on the deal, which it is expected to do on Tuesday. The sale of KirchMedia’s assets also requires the green light from the firm’s creditors, which include HVB Group, Bayerische Landesbank, DZ Bank and Commerzbank itself.

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