Kirch Media kicks revs up 7%

Company nets $209 mil

BERLIN — Kirch Media, the Kirch Group’s core TV subsidiary, has posted revenues of DM3.96 billion ($2 billion) for 1999, an increase of 7.3% over the previous year, and net profits of $209 million.

Kirch Media includes the group’s most profitable businesses, including film and TV production, licensing and sports rights as well as broadcasters ProSieben, SAT.1, Kabel 1, news channel N24 and sports weblet DSF.

Speaking at a press conference near Munich, deputy chairman Dieter Hahn said Kirch Media is planning an initial public offering late next year, although he added that any final decisions still lie with Leo Kirch, the company’s publicity-shy topper.

“Kirch has more than enough space for growth, with or without an IPO,” said Hahn.

With the merger of ProSieben and SAT.1, Kirch Media is expecting an increase in revenues of more than $2.4 billion next year. Bundling ProSieben and SAT.1 is expected to save Kirch Media more than $100 million annually.

Kirch execs also reiterated their interest in buying local weblet tm3 from Kirch partner Rupert Murdoch — “if the price is right,” said Kirch film and programming exec Jan Mojto.

Murdoch move

Mojto confirmed recent reports that Murdoch was interested in taking a stake, probably around 3%, in Kirch Media, but said no final decision had yet been made.

The Financial Times reported on Monday that Murdoch is looking to invest some $237 million for a 3% share in Kirch Media.

Hahn emphasized that a Murdoch stake would not be very big, since Kirch would retain a majority share following an IPO anyway.

Kirch currently holds 81% of the company, and his son Thomas, 7%; Italian politico and media baron Silvio Berlusconi and Saudi Prince Al Waleed bin Talal have 2.8% each, and another 9% is held jointly by investment houses Lehman Brothers and Capital Research and Management.

Kirch Media was priced at nearly $8 billion last year, although the merger of ProSieben and SAT.1 has since raised its value.

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