U.S. investment group Blackstone may bid for web
BERLIN — Haim Saban and his investment partners are reportedly again in negotiations to sell Teutonic commercial broadcast group ProSiebenSat 1 and aim to conclude the E2.7 billion ($3.4 billion) deal by year’s end.U.S. investment group Blackstone is said to be among those interested. Earlier this year, Blackstone acquired a 4.5% stake in Deutsche Telekom for $3.4 billion, and it is also active in Germany’s cable TV market. Earlier this year Saban came close to selling the broadcaster to publishing group Axel Springer for $3.2 billion, but Germany’s antitrust watchdog torpedoed the deal. Since then, ProSiebenSat 1 topper Guillaume de Posch has maintained that Saban intends to keep the broadcaster and has refuted past speculation about a possible sale, adding that Saban was under no pressure to sell. Reps for Saban and ProSiebenSat 1 declined to comment on any new sale, touted in a report in German weekly Focus. Saban’s ProSieben consortium includes Bain, Putnam, Alpine Equity, Providence Equity, Quadrangle, Hellman & Friedman and Thomas H. Lee Partners. Saban, Providence and Thomas H. Lee also partnered on the recent $13.7 billion acquisition of U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision along with Dearborn Partners and Texas Pacific Group. In June, days before the Univision deal, Saban’s consortium used its ProSieben shares to secure a $1.6 billion credit line. The group operates five free-to-air channels (ProSieben, Sat 1, Kabel 1, N24 and 9Live) and recently launched two pay TV outlets. The broadcaster increased revenues in the first half of the year by 8.3% to $1.3 billion and saw pre-tax profit climb 13.6% to $238.7 million.