Last Surviving Kirch Units File for Insolvency

14 June 2002

The decline and fall of Leo Kirch’s German media empire was completed this week, as the remaining units of Kirch Gruppe finally went under.

Taurus Holding (the umbrella company for the whole empire) and investment units Kirch Beteiligung and Formel Eins Beteiligung all filed for insolvency at a Munich court, succumbing to the same fate as the KirchMedia and KirchPayTV units earlier this year.

The filings are bad news for Rupert Murdoch, whose option to force Taurus to buy back a pay-TV stake for €1.7 billion ($1.6bn; £1bn) becomes void. They also hang question marks over the future of Kirch’s majority holding in Formula One motor racing and 40% stake in publishing giant Axel Springer.

Meanwhile, the vultures continue to circle the remains. Commerzbank, US movie studio Columbia TriStar and German publisher WAZ Gruppe have unveiled a joint bid for the free-to-air TV properties and rights assets of KirchMedia.

The trio had reportedly been arguing about how to divide the spoils, but they have settled on 20% to Columbia and 40% each to the two German bidders, so long as Commerzbank is permitted to reduce its holding to 25% in the medium term. However, WAZ has yet to give the bid its final approval.

Separately, there was good news for the Kirch unit whose losses many onlookers blame for the media empire’s fall: pay-TV platform Premiere World.

As the rest of the Kirch group collapses around it, Premiere is said to have secured from Bayerische Landesbank and HypoVereinsbank the €100 million funding it needs to survive the rest of the year.

Data sourced from multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff