Saban Purchase of KirchMedia Collapses

06 June 2003

The future of German broadcasting group KirchMedia is in fresh doubt after its sale to US billionaire Haim Saban collapsed.

Kirch – one-time flagship of the now defunct Kirch Gruppe media empire – revealed it has failed to agree terms for its film rights library and its controlling stake in TV network ProSiebenSat.1.

The auction of the assets has dragged on for nearly a year, but finally looked settled when Saban – who built his fortunes on the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers – appeared to win Kirch’s hand with a €2 billion ($2.3bn; £1.4bn) bid [WAMN: 13-Mar-03].

Since then, however, the two sides have encountered a number of sticking points. Saban was unhappy that under German takeover law he had to make an offer for the ProSieben shares not in the hands of Kirch. The two sides also disagreed on how the film library would be financed, while the rising value of the euro against the dollar made the deal less appealing to the US buyer.

As a result, the two sides decided no settlement could be agreed in time for a shareholder meeting on June 16 and called off the deal.

This leaves Kirch still in the hands of its banks, which include Commerzbank, HVB Group, BayernLB and DZ Bank. These are ready to pump a further €300 million into ProSieben and reportedly have a plan to restructure and float the network. Another option suggested by those in the know is that Saban will return for fresh talks after the June 16 meeting.

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