KKR, Permira team looks to be winner

A correction was made to this article at 5:32 p.m.

Haim Saban could finalize a sale of ProSiebenSat 1, Germany’s biggest commercial broadcasting group, as early as this week after final bidding closed Tuesday.

The group looks likely to go to a consortium of investment companies Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Permira, which probably would merge it with their pan-European broadcaster SBS. That scenario has strong support from ProSiebenSat 1 execs as well as politicos, who foresee more jobs in Munich as a result.

Others still in the bidding are Apax Partners and Goldman Sachs, with a joint offer, and Turkish media giant Dogan Yayin.

German Media Partners, the holding owned by Saban and his investment partners, is selling its 50.5% stake in the broadcaster for more than e3 billion ($4 billion).

Saban could choose a winning bidder by Friday, according to German financial daily Handelsblatt, which cited unnamed sources close to the negotiations.

Offers are said to range between $40 and $46 a share — more than four times what Saban and his partners paid when they took over the company in 2003.

The biggest offer has reportedly come from Dogan, although the bid is said to be a long shot since it would face intense antitrust scrutiny due to Dogan’s links with Berlin-based publishing giant Axel Springer. Latter, forced to give up its takeover bid for ProSiebenSat 1 earlier this year due to pressure from regulators, recently took a 25% stake in Dogan’s broadcasting division, Dogan TV.

ProSiebenSat 1 execs, meanwhile, are said to be excited about a possible merger with SBS, which would allow ProSiebenSat 1 to expand into Benelux, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe and create a continental powerhouse rivaling Bertelsmann’s RTL Group.

Currently headquartered in Amsterdam, SBS would likely move its offices to the ProSiebenSat 1 complex outside Munich — which would make Bavaria’s influential state government giddy.

Bavaria state economics minister Erwin Huber said Tuesday that the government’s main concern was to avoid the breakup of ProSiebenSat 1 at all costs.

Permira already has plenty of experience in Bavaria’s close-knit broadcasting industry.

The investment group snapped up the near-bankrupt pay TV broadcaster Premiere in 2003 following the collapse of the Kirch media empire, former owner of both Premiere and ProSiebenSat 1.

After financially resuscitating the paybox, Permira led the broadcaster to a hugely successful initial public offering in 2005.

Last month Permira sold its remaining stake in Premiere for some $115 million, sidestepping any potential antitrust concerns in a takeover of ProSiebenSat 1.

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