Banks stalking Premiere

Creditors closing in, Tele Munchen showing interest

BERLIN — Creditor banks of bankrupt Kirch’s pay TV web Premiere look set to pounce on the financially crippled broadcaster.

HypoVereinsbank and BayernLB will take control of the money-losing feevee platform by converting loans of €750 million ($745 million) into an equity stake in the company.

According to a prospectus prepared by U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley for potential investors, Premiere is to be stripped of its debt and brought into New Premiere, a new holding company to be controlled by the two banks.

The banks, which are expected to continue the search for long-term investors for Premiere, are set to forgive $300 million-$400 million in credit and provide a further $100 million-$200 million by 2004.

Premiere CEO Georg Kofler has said, “Everybody who believes in and supports Premiere is welcome.” Kofler himself is considering taking a 5%-10% stake in the web.

Tele Munchen lurking

German film and TV company Tele Munchen Group is rumored to be interested in the pay platform.

Premiere, whose parent company Kirch Pay TV filed for insolvency in May, has undertaken massive cost-cutting while looking for new investors. Kofler has said his turnaround plan will bring Premiere into the black by 2004.

Neither Premiere nor the banks have commented on the reports.

Kirch Pay TV went belly up after the insolvency of Kirch Media, the core free TV and rights division of the now-collapsed Kirch empire.

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