Kirch Gruppe is set to merge its Kirch Media free-TV and rights division into the latter’s listed subsidiary, television broadcaster ProSiebenSAT.1, forming Germany’s biggest listed media company.

A deal has reportedly been reached between the management of Kirch Gruppe, KirchHolding (holding company for Kirch Media) and ProSiebenSAT.1, subject to approval by the trio’s supervisory boards. The merger, slated for next year, could be officially unveiled this week.

According to insiders, the privately owned Kirch Media will fold into ProSiebenSAT.1 and take over its stock market listing. This complex manoeuvre was chosen instead of a simple flotation due to the weak stock market. Kirch Media already holds 52.5% of the broadcaster and over 85% of voting rights.

The move, bringing Kirch to the stock market well before rival Bertelsmann (whose listing is slated for 2003), will create Germany’s only integrated listed media company, encompassing rights trading, production, the internet, media technology and broadcasting.

In addition, ProSiebenSAT.1 will gain access to non-advertising revenue, while the pooling of TV channels DSF, SAT.1, ProSieben, Kabel 1 and news service N24 will consolidate the group’s strength in the free-TV market.

News source: Financial Times