Sale to boost ailing subscription venture

BERLIN — In a further effort to boost its ailing subscription TV venture, the Kirch Group has sold off nearly 6% of its Kirch PayTV division for a total of $354 million to company partners Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal and U.S. investment group Capital Research.

Al-Waleed’s Kingdom Holdings, which also has a 2.76% stake in Kirch’s free TV division Kirch Media, paid DM 347 million ($154 million) for the piece of Kirch’s feevee pie.

L.A.-based Capital Research, which holds 3.27% of Kirch Media, paid $200 million for a 2.76% share.

Exercising a long-standing investment option that was to expire this month, Al-Waleed managed to get a better deal than Capital Research, which dished out around $46 million more for its smaller stake.

The investments place the value of Kirch PayTV at $7.2 billion. Kirch retains a 71.47% stake in the company, while BSkyB holds 22.57%.

Coin injection

The latest injection of cash comes a week after Kirch sold its 3.1% stake in Britain’s BSkyB for about $820 million, money Kirch plans to pour into its lackluster multichannel digital platform Premiere World.

With only 2.3 million subscribers, Germany’s only pay TV service is far from the 2.9 million customers it was hoping to have racked up by year’s end.

Kirch has been trying to make Premiere World more attractive by boosting sports programming, like popular national Bundesliga soccer and the recently acquired German ice-hockey league games.

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