Giant eyes Premiere, Sogecable, Kinowelt

Gaul’s Canal Plus is reportedly eyeing Germany’s Premiere and Spain’s Sogecable as it seeks to expand its pay TV biz abroad.

The French entertainment group has declined to comment on press reports, but such acquisitions would be in line with Canal Plus prexy-CEO Bertrand Meheut’s policy on growth.

Meheut told the Financial Times this year that there could be opportunities to buy or partner with pay TV operators in other countries.

According to German weekly Focus, Premiere has opened its books to potential investors including Canal Plus; Premiere execs remain tight-lipped.

The share price for Premiere, Germany’s biggest pay TV company with 3.5 million subscribers, climbed steadily on speculation that local media entrepreneur Leo Kirch, who founded the platform, or another competitor may be interested in a takeover.

Kirch’s recent acquisition of marketing rights to top league Bundesliga soccer and his involvement with EM.Sport have fueled speculation that he may buy back the satcaster.

Premiere stock rose 7.6% to $19.14 on Monday before slipping down to $18.34 as investors anticipated a takeover offer, according to local analysts.

Likewise, Sogecable’s shares spiked 8.2% following press reports of Canal Plus’ possible interest in the Madrid-based pay TV group.

Meanwhile, Canal Plus may be considering expanding its homevid and theatrical distribution biz by adding German producer-distrib Kinowelt to its fold.

While Kinowelt execs have declined to comment on the persistent rumors that the company is on the block, German financial daily Handelsblatt on Monday reported that Canal Plus execs were in talks with Kinowelt owner Michael Koelmel about an acquisition.

Company sources say Kinowelt is open to strategic partnerships, especially for cross-border growth.

The pair already have a business relationship. Kinowelt has handled Canal Plus homevideo titles in German-speaking territories since 2000.

(John Hopewell in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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