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Kirch backs off EM.TV bid

Company to remain a business partner, sez Klatten

BERLIN — Germany’s Kirch Group has withdrawn its application for permission to buy part of troubled kidvidder EM.TV from the German cartel office on the grounds that it wants a smaller stake.

Kirch had asked authorities to clear a proposed acquisition of 17% of EM.TV and 25% of the voting rights. It now is looking for a stake of between 10% and 15%.

Kirch announced its revised plan in the wake of EM.TV founder Thomas Haffa’s exit from the company last month.

Former Kirch exec Werner Klatten is poised to assume the role of CEO after his acquisition of the majority of Haffa’s 41% stake in EM.TV.

“Kirch will remain a business partner,” Klatten said Tuesday.

EM.TV, which wants to focus on its core kids TV business, will have to find a new way to buy out Kirch’s 50% stake in the Junior TV joint venture, which licenses children’s shows. The two firms are negotiating and talks are expected to end soon, according to EM.TV rep Stefanie Schusser.

Kirch agreed to bail out EM.TV in December in exchange for part of its Formula One motor racing holding. The two Munich companies won cartel office backing for that deal.

But Kirch’s plan to take a stake in EM.TV has been held up for months as the kidvidder failed to satisfy German antitrust demands that it sell its 45% holding in Kirch rival Tele Munchen.

(Bloomberg contributed to this report.)

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