Decision likely to be made in October, spokesman sez

BERLIN — Insolvent German TV group Kirch Media said Friday it was satisfied with the final bids received in the auction of its assets and added it would remain in further talks with potential investors in the coming weeks.

“The bids that have come in met our expectations fully,” a Kirch Media spokesman said, adding that a final decision was likely in the first half of October.

Top bids in the initial round of non-binding offers for Munich-based Kirch Media were as high as x2.6 billion ($2.5 billion).

Sept. 13 was the final day for binding bids. Kirch Media, the core TV and rights division of the Kirch Group, filed for insolvency in April after it was crushed by mounting debt.

Munich-based Kirch, which controls Germany’s largest commercial broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1, short-listed three bidders last month, including a team-up of media billionaire Haim Saban and French media group TF1, a partnership between Commerzbank and Sony Corp’s Columbia TriStar, and a group of KirchMedia shareholders.

Bidders who didn’t make the cut, including German publishers Axel Springer and Heinrich Bauer, were able to rejoin the auction with improved or modified proposals. Axel Springer and Bauer, along with HypoVereinsbank, are rumored to have hooked up with the Sony/Commerzbank consortia for a combined offer.

The publishers had made an early offer of $1.4 billion, while Sony/Commerzbank reportedly bid $2.2 billion. Saban and TF1 made the highest offer of $2.5 billion.

While Kirch Media’s management has said it wants to sell the unit as a whole, a sale of individual assets is possible.

Whoever buys Kirch Media’s most prized possession — its 52.5% in the publicly listed ProSiebenSat.1 — would under German law have to make a full offer for the firm, including an additional $700 million-$800 million to the individual shareholders.

Meanwhile, former Adidas topper Robert Louis-Dreyfus is reportedly backing a $200 million management buyout of Kirch Media’s Switzerland-based sports rights division Kirch Sport, which owns rights to World Cup soccer.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

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