Regulator Bars Kirch from Acquiring EM.TV Stake

29 August 2001

Following the German cartel office’s refusal last month to approve the acquisition of a 25.1% stake in EM.TV & Merchandising by media mammoth Kirch Gruppe, the latter has withdrawn its offer.

Said an EM.TV statement: “This way the cartel blockade, which has damaged the company in recent months, is lifted. Kirch Group will remain an important partner for EM.TV, while its holding in EM.TV can be decided at a later date.”

But cunning Kirch has already achieved several of its objective without acquiring the stake. The deal, agreed in December, also included 49% of EM.TV’s holding in Formula One motor racing – a prize not within the control of the cartel watchdog and recently snapped-up by Kirch.

In any event, Kirch tentacles already enfold EM.TV. Chief executive-designate, Werner Klatten, is an ex-Kirch senior manager and Kirch has also placed one of its henchmen as second in command. The chief financial officer is also a Kirch placeman, as are three members of the company’s supervisory board.

Furthermore, Klatten now plans to bid personally for the 25% of EM.TV formerly owned by its ousted founder Thomas Haffa, the sale of which requires the prior approval of Kirch.

Game, set and match to Kirch – notwithstanding the umpire!

News source: Wall Street Journal