COLOGNE — A group of U.S. shareholders in German web group ProSiebenSat.1 Media has taken legal steps to ensure it has a say in whether billionaire producer Haim Saban needs to make an offer for the group’s outstanding shares.
The Frankfurt higher regional court OLG on Friday said it has received a complaint by Boston-based fund K-Capital Partners, which claims to own 8% of ProSiebenSat.1’s preference shares. The fund asked that shareholders be consulted in the pending decision regarding Saban’s takeover, handled by Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin).
While the TV tycoon agreed with Kirch Media to acquire 36% (equal to 72% of voting rights) in the web group, it’s still not clear whether he needs to tender for the group’s outstanding shares. Under German law, investors are obliged to make an offer if they acquire more than 30% of voting rights, unless the company is restructuring. Saban has asked for an exemption, citing the group’s unstable financial condition. BaFin is currently examining the case.
According to a BaFin spokeswoman, the org has been approached by K-Capital but did not comply with its request, as the law excludes participation of third parties in such a decision. So far, K-Capital has been the only other ProSiebenSat.1 shareholder to approach BaFin, she said.
A mandatory offer for outstanding shares could cost Saban as much as $500 million, close to the $600 million he is reportedly set to pay for Kirch Media’s stake. The BaFin spokeswoman said there was no time frame as to when the org would make a decision, but conceded that losses or a looming cancellation of a credit line could be reasons for an exemption. Hit by the advertising crisis, ProSiebenSat.1 recently reported a net loss of $38 million in the first quarter.