Teuton mogul forges new firm, eyes windfall
Leo Kirch may be down, but he’s certainly not out.
The Teuton mogul has been fighting embezzlement charges and witnessing the depletion of his personal coffers while U.S. producer Haim Saban picks up the choicest parts of his once-vast media empire.
But Kirch has just launched a new company, KF 15, with former Kirch Group deputy chief exec Dieter Hahn.
The entity, set up with financial backing from Hahn and Kirch’s wife Ruth, won’t be involved in media or sports. Instead, the firm will serve as an investment vehicle and a holding company for Kirch’s personal assets.
Kirch is currently worth an estimated $275 million, a far cry from 1999, when Forbes put his personal wealth at $5 billion. But he may land a major windfall — he’s seeking $107 million — from his lawsuit against former Deutsche Bank chief Rolf Breuer.
A Munich court ruled in February that comments Breuer made in a TV interview contributed to the Kirch Group’s insolvency. Exact damages have yet to be decided.
As for the long list of Kirch’s former creditors, they will likely have to wait at least a decade before they recoup debts from what’s left of Kirch Media.
The company is facing claims totaling $10 billion. Of that sum, $8 billion are in dispute.
Hollywood studios, most notably Columbia and Paramount, are demanding $5.3 billion in damages relating to film rights deals.