Saban Teams With Springer for Hollinger Bid

08 April 2004

US billionaire Haim Saban has joined forces with German publishing giant Axel Springer in a bid for troubled media group Hollinger International [H-Intl].

H-Intl has invited offers for some or all of its assets as it struggles to raise cash. Both Saban -- whose fortune was built on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers kids characters -- and Springer were rumoured to be involved in the auction, and it has now emerged they have formed a consortium.

The duo, backed by venture capital group Hellman & Friedman, have made an offer for the entire group. H-Intl's assets include Britain's Daily Telegraph, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post.

But reports suggest Saban and Springer are not the only parties interested in the whole business: US venture capitalist KKR is also believed to have made an offer for all of H-Intl.

There may be more to this bid than meets the eye. Henry Kravis, one of KKR's founders, is married to Marie-Josée Kravis, a longtime friend of recently deposed H-Intl chairman Lord Conrad Black and a member of the newspaper group's board until last October.

A deal for the whole company would be worth at least $1.7 billion (€1.4bn; £0.9bn), the current market value of H-Intl. Such offers may have an edge over bids for individual assets, as the latter would incur a heavy tax penalty.

Also said to be involved in the auction are British newspaper group Daily Mail & General Trust and the billionaire Barclay twins. A bid from US newspaper giant Gannett, however, has reportedly been rejected.

Those still in the race will be granted access to a room full of H-Intl's financial data before they make final offers, due by mid-May. The company expects to announce the successful bid by the end of next month.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff