Cash-strapped German media group EMTV yesterday signed an agreement with rival Kirch in an attempt to secure its future.

The duo have been in often turbulent talks since November [WAMN: 29-Nov-00], with many of EMTV’s senior management opposed to the deal. One of the most vociferous critics, supervisory board chairman Nickolaus Becker, shed his antipathy to the deal only last week.

Under the terms of the agreement, ratified by EMTV’s management and supervisory boards last night in an emergency session, Kirch will gain a 25% voting right in the company and half of EMTV’s 50% stake in SLEC (the foundation controlling rights to Formula One racing).

It will also finance EMTV’s purchase of a further 25% stake in SLEC from Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone. In return, EMTV will acquire Kirch’s stake in a children’s programme joint venture.

The agreement comes just one day before the deadline set by EMTV’s creditor banks for the group to find a solution, and hours before the exclusivity period agreed between the duo was due to expire. A detailed contract is expected by March 15.

However, this tortuous tale may yet have a few more twists. The deal is subject to regulatory approval, and also needs the green light from Ecclestone, who has the right to veto sales of SLEC shares to other broadcasters.

News source: Financial Times