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Saban Signs Deal to Buy Broadcaster

August 09, 2003|From Reuters

A group led by U.S. billionaire Haim Saban has signed a long-sought deal to buy Germany's biggest commercial broadcaster, its owner, insolvent media group KirchMedia, said Friday.

Saban, who made a fortune in U.S. children's television, won a turbulent bidding race for ProSiebenSat.1 Media, the crown jewel of Germany's KirchMedia. Saban would become the first foreigner to control a major German TV asset when the deal closes.

Details were not disclosed, but sources said Saban, backed by private equity firms, would pay $594 million for Kirch's 72% stake in ProSiebenSat.

Saban finally claimed victory in the battle for ProSieben after the collapse of two previous deals: one in December by a German publisher that Saban then elbowed aside, and another by Saban in March that fell through in part because of worries about his financing.

Kirch's creditor banks, eager to recover some of the billions of euros they lent to German mogul Leo Kirch's collapsed media empire, approved the latest deal Tuesday.

The KirchMedia creditors' committee is dominated by German banks -- Commerzbank HVB Group, DZ Bank and BayernLB -- and Hollywood studios Walt Disney Co. and Sony Corp.'s Columbia TriStar.

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