Bauer-Led Group to Buy KirchMedia


A consortium led by German publisher Heinrich Bauer Verlag seems set to take
control of KirchMedia, one of the largest broadcasters in Germany and one of
Europe's largest programmers.

Bauer is taking a leading roll in the bid, but HypoVereinsbank, which is
advising Bauer on the acquisition, will likely take a minority stake.

Bauer is also in talks with others about joining the bid. These include Sony
Pictures Television International, a major supplier of programming and owner of
a number of cable and satellite channels, and publisher Axel Springer

Axel Springer already owns an 11.5 percent take in broadcaster
ProSiebenSat.1, which is majority-owned by KirchMedia.

German newspapers reported that KirchMedia executives told creditors at a
Munich meeting that a decision 'had been made' to sell KirchMedia to the Bauer

Press accounts said Bauer offered somewhere between 1.8 billion euros and 2
billion euros ($1.8 billion to $2 billion) to buy KirchMedia, more than the 1.4
billion euros ($1.4 billion) offered by a consortium that included Italy's
Mediaset. Bauer was also favored because it did not want to split up

The deal still faces regulatory review and creditor approval. Bauer could be
forced to sell some assets, including a 31.5 percent stake in RTL II, to avoid
trouble from the regulators.

German law prohibits anyone from controlling more than 25 percent of the
broadcast market. The KirchMedia holdings have about 24 percent, while RTL II
has a 4 percent market share.

Analysts believe Bertelsmann AG would like to buy the stake to gain more
control over the channel.

The deal would give the consortium control over one of Europe's most valuable
broadcasting and programming assets. KirchMedia has a controlling 52.5 percent
stake in ProSiebenSat.1, one of two major broadcasting groups in Germany, and it
has 100 percent ownership of the BetaFilm library, which is Europe's

Under German law, Bauer will have to make a public offer for the rest of
ProSiebenSat.1's shares that are currently publicly traded.