Pro7 parent records $1 million surplus

BERLIN — With six weeks to go before becoming Germany’s first publicly listed web, third-ranked commercial channel Pro7 has released an impressive set of results for 1996 and the first quarter of 1997.

The Munich-based ProSieben Media AG, to which Pro7 and weblet Kabel1 belong, reported on Thursday that its 1996 turnover rose 15% over the previous year to 1.69 billion marks ($1 billion), $864 million of which was generated by Pro 7. The group’s before-tax profits came to $105 million, an increase of 59% over 1995.

As a result of the fusion with money-losing Kabel1, ProSieben Media’s tax burden was low in 1996, leaving the group with a surplus of $1 million.

While noting that tax on profits will increase in 1997, group chairman Georg Kofler announced that first- quarter before-tax profits were 34% higher than in the same period last year, and turnover was up by 17.5%.

With the sale of 17.5 million preferred shares starting July 7, ProSieben Media expects to raise more than $592 million. Voting rights will remain exclusively with shareholders Thomas Kirch, son of Bavarian media mogul Leo Kirch, and retailer REWE AG. Kirch, who currently holds a 24.5% stake in the web, will control more than 50% of the common stock, while REWE will own more than 35%.

There has been recent speculation in the German press that Leo Kirch, one of Pro7’s main programming suppliers, is planning to raise the price of films and series sold to Pro7 after the flotation, thus cutting into the network’s impressive profit margin.

Kofler refuted these rumors Thursday, emphasizing the group’s independent program purchasing and planning strategies.

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