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Prisa extends $4 bil debt repayment

Move may boost Digital Plus' buying power

MADRID — Prisa, controlling shareholder of Spain’s biggest pay TV platform, Digital Plus, has closed a deal with creditor banks to extend repayment of around E 2.92 billion ($3.8 billion) in debt to March 2014 at the earliest.

Maturity on a $2.6 billion bridge loan, originally made to Prisa in 2007 by a seven-bank syndicate led by HSBC, will be pushed back to January 2015.

Another syndicated loan is extended to March 2014, or December 2014 if Prisa sells bonds or its 17% stake in Mediaset Espana, Bloomberg noted.

The debt extensions, hammered out with 35 banks, rep an important vote of market confidence in Prisa, one of the biggest media congloms in the Spanish-speaking world, which also owns Spanish newspaper El Pais, radio network Cadena Ser and Portuguese TV holding Media Capital, owner of broadcaster TVI.

As Prisa initiates what it called this week a “growth policy,” one effect of the loan extensions may be a heightened appetite for topnotch product at Digital Plus, whose consumer base has languished at around 1.8 million subscribers in recent years.

“Prisa has a clear commitment to Digital Plus. It will now attempt to improve its content, one way or another,” forecast one analyst.

In February, Digital Plus acquired Spanish rights to select UEFA Champions League soccer games for the next three seasons.

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