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Saban Submits New Bid for ProSiebenSat.1 Stake

August 04, 2003|From Reuters

FRANKFURT, Germany — A group of investors led by Hollywood billionaire Haim Saban has submitted a revived bid to buy a majority stake in German television broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media, industry sources said Sunday.

The bid for 72% of ProSieben's vote-wielding ordinary shares, owned by insolvent German media group KirchMedia, will be discussed by Kirch creditors Tuesday, the sources said.

"It's a much better offer than was on the table a few weeks ago," one source said.

A KirchMedia spokesman and a spokeswoman for Saban declined to comment.

Two months after the collapse of Saban's first attempt to buy the ProSieben stake and KirchMedia's film library, sources said Saban's revived approach had a much better chance of success because some key issues have been resolved.

First, he now boasts the support of five private equity firms: Providence Equity Partners, Hellman & Friedman, Thomas H. Lee, Quadrangle Group and Bain Capital, which reduces his involvement and satisfies creditors' concerns about financing.

Saban's stake in the consortium would be about 25%, one source said.

Second, Saban, who made a fortune with children's TV figures such as the Power Rangers, is unlikely to seek an exemption to German rules requiring him to make an offer to ProSieben's small shareholders, sources said.

Third, the consortium appears set to back a capital increase at the broadcaster, banking sources said.

"The fact that Saban does not have a majority in the consortium, that the financial investors form a strong counterweight, has reassured the creditor banks who are still cautious about him after the lengthy talks last time," one banking source said.

But the creditors -- Germany's Commerzbank, HVB Group, mutually owned DZ Bank and Bavarian state bank BayernLB -- are unlikely to give any ground on price.

Under the terms of the first bid abandoned in June, Saban agreed to pay about $592 million for the stake. That offer amounted to 7.50 euros, or $8.50, a share.

"If he comes in below the last offer of 7.50 euros, then there won't be a deal," a source said.

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