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Saban's Bid for German Broadcaster Is Accepted

August 06, 2003|From Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany — Hollywood mogul Haim Saban won support Tuesday for his bid to buy Germany's second-biggest private television broadcaster, a deal that would complete the breakup of the Kirch media empire and give Saban access to Germany's insular media world.

KirchMedia creditors agreed to sell to Saban the company's majority stake in broadcast chain ProSiebenSat.1, which brings dubbed versions of U.S. shows such as "Friends" and "Sex and the City" into German homes.

The deal won't be final until it is signed, but the creditors' approval clears away a major hurdle. KirchMedia spokesman Rudolf Wallraf said the signing would come in the next few days. Saban issued a short statement saying that he was pleased and that "we look forward to completing the transaction."

An earlier attempt by Saban to buy ProSiebenSat.1 fell through when financing deadlines were not met. But this time, Saban has lined up several private equity firms as backers, according to German news media reports.

Bank executives, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said that Saban was offering more than $596 million for the majority stake in ProSiebenSat.1 and that other parts of the deal, such as an injection of capital into the company, could bring the total to $1.34 billion.

Saban would pay 7.50 euros, or $8.54, a share for the majority stake, and German law may obligate him to make an offer for the 36% of the company traded on the stock market.

The stock fell on fears that Saban's offer for the market shares -- which do not have voting rights -- might be significantly lower, and traded down 10.7% on Tuesday at 5.98 euros, or $6.81, in Frankfurt.

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