RTL confirms talks for news web stake

Shareholders looking to boost or shed N-TV stock

BERLIN — European broadcasting giant RTL has confirmed it is in talks for a stake in German financial news channel N-TV.

RTL, which has long been eyeing the web, is expected to acquire at least a 10% stake, while German publishing group Holtzbrinck will reportedly up its share from 29% to 49%.

AOL Time Warner and CNN control 50% of the web, but the former has been looking to shed its 24% stake in the channel, while CNN will likely retain its share. In addition, shareholders Martin, Matthias and Michael Nixdorf are looking to reduce their 19% stake.

For RTL, a stake in N-TV would give it a foothold in news — an area in which it’s been lacking — and help round out its German family of broadcasters, which include RTL, RTL 2, Vox and tyke web Super RTL.

Main rival Kirch launched its 24-hour news channel, N24, last year. Despite its interest in a new acquisition, RTL, which has holdings in 24 TV channels and 18 radio stations throughout Europe, is expected to unveil a grim picture Wednesday when it publishes its half-year results.

Group, which draws much of its revenues from the flailing German market, is expected to post half-year pre-tax earnings of around $223 million, down from about $300 million a year earlier, and revenues of around $1.9 billion.

With the worst advertising slowdown in a decade, company has warned that full-year profits would be down by 10%-15%.

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