KirchMedia Forges Deal with Germany’s Bauer Over Asset Sale

24 December 2002

The protracted disposal of the remains of German media empire Kirch Gruppe finally looks to be drawing to a close, as quondam flagship rights unit KirchMedia has agreed to sell its assets to a consortium led by publisher Bauer.

Crucially, the two firms have forged a broad agreement over the sale of KirchMedia’s premier asset, a 52.5% stake in German broadcast giant ProSiebenSat.1. Although no details have been disclosed, Bauer is said to be paying around €700 million ($721m; £451m) for the holding, with a written pact expected next month.

The publisher also plans to start negotiations to buy the 11.5% stake in ProSieben currently held by newspaper colossus Axel Springer.

Such developments follow last week’s agreement to sell Kirch Gruppe pay-TV unit Premiere World to private equity house Permira [WAMN: 23-Dec-02].

However, as befits the drawn-out Kirch saga, there is still room for a few more twists. Bauer has cautioned that its purchase of the 52.5% ProSieben stake is dependent on its acquisition of a majority interest in KirchMedia’s film rights arm.

The two sides have agreed an outline pact for this part of the deal, but some of KirchMedia’s creditor banks are reportedly yet to agree to it. In return for renouncing some Kirch debts, the banks are insisting that Bauer pour €200m into the unit and that a contract be drawn up guaranteeing use of the film rights by ProSieben.

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