Saban and French TV Operator Seal Deal for ProSiebenSat.1

18 March 2003

Mighty Power Rangers billionaire Haim Saban (58) has finally morphed into the hotly contested ownership of German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media, currently the property of bankrupt KirchMedia. Saban’s successful bid – believed to be in the region of $2.1 billion (€1.98bn; £1.34bn) – is in conjunction with Television Française1.

Although last week’s withdrawal of German publishing group Heinrich Bauer left Saban/TF1 as the sole players at the table [WAMN: 13 Mar-03], it was not until Monday that the deal was inked. The spoils not only include a 52.5% controlling stake in Germany’s second largest broadcaster but also the biggest film library in the world outside the US.

The appearance of TF1 on the victors’ podium, after apparently retiring from the fray in its earlier stages, has raised a few eyebrows, especially as its name was not mentioned in a statement issued by KirchMedia.

Those who earn a crust from reading the runes believe that Saban and TF1 could go their separate ways after the deal is signed, sealed and delivered – Saban to realise his dream of owning a major TV network, and TF1 with a movie library large enough to morph the entire French nation into pommes de terre de divan.

“We're very determined to do this deal and to lead it to success,” Saban told German news weekly Der Spiegel. “It’s as if one of the big American networks like ABC or NBC was put up for sale – a chance like that is rare.”

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff