Springer Disposal Throws $870m Lifeline to Flailing Kirch

11 February 2002

Kirch Gruppe, the German media giant currently struggling for survival, hopes to announce this week that it has unloaded over E1 billion ($8.8m; £617m) in assets in order to reduce its massive E7.9bn debt millstone.

Word from within the bunker is that Kirch has found a financial buyer for its 40% holding in the Axel Springer publishing group. Negotiations had reached “an advanced stage” on Sunday night and it is hoped that a formal announcement can be made later this week – although it is stressed that “no contracts have yet been signed”.

Kirch’s current obligations total around E5.6bn in debt plus other liabilities of E2.3bn – the latter including imminent cash demands for billions of dollars, which the group has confessed it cannot meet.

Deutsche Bank chief executive Rolf Breuer is understood to have flown to Munich over the weekend at the behest of German chancellor Gerhard Schröder for discussions with Leo Kirch, the owner of the privately-held company. Independent to the end, however, a Kirch henchman is reported as saying, “We have always said we would find our own solution. This is going to be done Mr Kirch's way.”

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff