Goldman Sachs enters Hollinger Fray

20 April 2004

The bidding war for troubled media group Hollinger International [H-Intl] has escalated with investment banker Goldman Sachs entering the fray.

US venture capital group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (the original Barbarian at the Gate) and tipped as one of the leading contenders for H-Intl, on Friday signed Goldman in a move which some analysts say strengthens the group’s position in the contest.

KKR has reputedly offered $2 billion (€1.6bn; £1.1bn) for H-Intl’s entire assets which include the Daily Telegraph Group in Britain, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post.

Intriguingly KKR founder Henry Kravis is married to Marie-Josee Kravis, a friend of deposed H-Intl chairman Lord Conrad Black. Mrs Kravis was also a board director of the newspaper group until last October.

The other major contender is a consortium comprising German media giant Axel Springer and Haim Saban, the Israeli-born billionaire whose fortune has been built on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers characters. The Springer/Saban consortium is backed by venture capitalists Hellman & Friedman.

Some observers feel that other groups chasing parts, rather than the whole H-Intl empire, could be at a disadvantage when the second round of bids closes mid-May. The H-Intl board is likely to favour the most advantageous financial solution. H-Intl would escape huge tax penalties if it were sold whole rather than broken-up.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK);additional content by WARC staff.