BERLIN — Leo Kirch is reportedly fighting to hang on to his 40% stake in German publisher Axel Springer despite a court ruling allowing Deutsche Bank to acquire it in lieu of an unpaid $725 million loan, it emerged Wednesday.
The bankrupt media mogul is poised to declare insolvent his company Print Beteiligung, which holds the Springer stake.
That could freeze the stake, dashing Springer and Deutsche Bank’s plans and even nix a “restricted transferability” clause that gives Springer final approval over sale of the share.
Springer is negotiating with Deutsche Bank to sell the stake to Swiss publisher Ringier, which is considering a merger with Springer.
The publisher has consistently sought to block Kirch’s attempts to sell. It has already used the clause once to foil Kirch’s plans to sell the stake to German publisher WAZ.
According to newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Kirch’s plan is backed by Bayern, JPMorgan Chase and Lehman Brothers, who have secondary dibs on the Springer stake. Like Deutsche Bank, the lenders also accepted the Springer share as collateral against loans to Kirch.
The Springer stake market value is estimated at around $700 million, but Kirch is said to be seeking $900 million.