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Investor Drops Bid for German Broadcaster

June 05, 2003|From Bloomberg News

U.S. investor Haim Saban pulled out of a $2.3-billion contract to buy Germany's biggest television broadcaster from ailing KirchMedia, the two sides said.

Saban, the U.S. producer of "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," dropped the takeover offer signed in March for ProSiebenSat1 Media because he failed to agree with KirchMedia and creditor banks on "details of the transaction" within set deadlines, Saban and KirchMedia said in a joint statement.

"Saban probably had problems finding investors to help him while at the same time [trying] to talk the creditor banks into changing the contract to his advantage," said Florian Leinauer, an analyst at Helaba Trust in Frankfurt, Germany.

Saban wanted leveraged buyout firms such as Carlyle Group Inc. and Texas Pacific Group to help him finance the takeover of ProSiebenSat1 and a film rights library. He also asked German regulators to exempt him from the obligation to make an offer to ProSieben's minority shareholders.

The collapse of the sale to Saban means creditors who made claims worth more than 9 billion euros will have to wait longer to get back their money. Creditor banks include HVB Group, Commerzbank and Bayerische Landesbank Girozentrale.

KirchMedia's insolvency lawyers said the assets now will remain in the control of KirchMedia and the creditor banks. The lawyers will continue talks with banks about the future financing of KirchMedia's film library.

Mediaset, the TV company of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Heinrich Bauer Verlag, a German publisher of television listing magazines, all had expressed interest in KirchMedia assets before Saban was chosen.

KirchMedia spokesman Rudolf Wallraf declined to comment on whether the company will revive talks with former potential buyers.

Saban, a former co-owner of the Fox Family cable network, could have helped ProSiebenSat1 boost earnings, analysts said.

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