Italo group joins Lehman Bros.' consortium

BERLIN — Mediaset, the TV conglomerate of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has joined former Kirch Media shareholders in a bid for the assets of the bankrupt German TV giant.

Mediaset prexy Fedele Confalonieri has confirmed that the group, whose interest in Kirch has been on and off since the company folded in April, had indeed joined fellow Kirch Media shareholders Lehman Brothers, Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal and German retailer Rewe. Kirch creditor Commerzbank, which recently split from former partner Sony, has also joined the consortium.

Mediaset has said in the past that it was keen on Kirch Media’s 52% stake in ProSiebenSat.1, Germany’s biggest TV group. The Munich-based Kirch also controls a vast film and series library and an international distribution company.

The creditor committee now pulling the strings at Kirch is set to review current bids on Wednesday.

French TV group TF1 and producer Haim Saban are also in the running, as is a group headed by German publisher and local favorite Heinrich Bauer. Sony has been in talks to join Bauer and its partner HypoVereinsbank, who have the support of the Bavarian state government.

Mediaset’s bid is sure to raise protests from government officials and media regulators, who were loud in their opposition earlier this year when it appeared the powerful Italian group would seek to take over Kirch Media.

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