Will he or won’t he?
The suspense surrounding Haim Saban‘s takeover of Germany’s biggest broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 and Europe’s largest programming library is palpable, as wrangling with creditors of Kirch Media and a lack of financing threaten to derail the $2 billion deal.
The pact would make Saban the first Hollywood industryite to stake a major claim in the world’s second largest TV market.
But Saban’s apparent inability to find investment partners, coupled with strict demands from creditors and a growing realization that Kirch’s interim chief exec might be as capable of running the show as the next guy, have made a collapse increasingly likely.
A payment plan from Saban for the 525 million euros ($620 million) to buy multichannel ProSiebenSat.1 was due May 31 but Kirch creditors last week granted him 10 extra days to come up with the dough.
Nevertheless, the lenders are increasingly pessimistic about Saban’s takeover. The banks and Kirch’s current chief Hans-Joachim Ziems are prepared to go it alone if Saban bails out.
One of the main obstacles hampering the deal is a possible mandatory buyout of outstanding shares held by minority shareholders, which would cost Saban an additional $500 million. Saban has asked Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority for an exemption, arguing that ProSiebenSat.1 is in financial trouble and in need of restructuring.
The office has yet to rule on the matter, but its decision may determine whether Saban goes through with the buy.
An alternative plan calls for Ziems and former RTL TV topper Helmut Thoma to run Kirch Media and oversee ProSiebenSat.1 and the licensing business for a few years — until the market picks up and the assets can be sold at a higher price.