Rumor stokes Premiere stock

Company may be takeover target

BERLIN — Something is afoot with Premiere. At least that’s what excited investors are hoping. On Tuesday the paybox’s share price climbed to Euros 20.69 ($28.60), its highest point since 2005, on growing speculation that it’s ripe for a takeover.

The pay TV broadcaster recently won back the highly lucrative rights to Bundesliga soccer, for years its bread-and-butter offering, after upstart rival Arena threw in the towel.

With top league soccer back at Premiere, the paybox has suddenly become all the more attractive. As part of the Bundesliga deal, Arena parent company Unitymedia obtained a 17% stake in Premiere.

The cable group is planning to sell the stake by 2009, and speculation is heating up that the likes of BSkyB or Vivendi may pounce.

While it may be wishful thinking for investors, Premiere topper Georg Kofler has said the paybox has been in talks with several interested parties.

“We never turn away someone who is interested in buying Premiere shares,” Kofler said recently in a TV interview.

Premiere saw its share price plunge 45% in December 2005 after losing the Bundesliga to Unitymedia, Germany’s second largest cable operator, which launched Arena last year in an attempt to break open the pay TV market here.

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