Saban to seek closer ties with H’wood

Board shake up looms but Rohner safe

BERLIN — Haim Saban said Thursday that he would seek greater cooperation between his German broadcasting group ProSiebenSat 1 and Hollywood studios.

“The company’s business relationships with Hollywood production studios shall be strengthened,” Saban’s company P7S1 Holding said in a document published Thursday.

He added that he was likely to change the board but stressed that Urs Rohner, whose contract was recently extended until the end of 2006, would remain at ProSiebenSat 1, Germany’s biggest network.

P7S1 also outlined its lowball cash offer for the outstanding nonvoting shares of ProSiebenSat 1. Saban’s offer of E6 ($6.87) per share — the average share price of the last three months but well below the current $13.85 — was approved by the country’s financial services regulator, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bafin), on Thursday.

Shareholders have until Nov. 14 to accept or reject the tender.

Shareholders are objecting to the offer, mandatory under German law, complaining it is too low. While Saban does not need the nonvoting shares to control the company, he has signaled that minority shareholders who don’t sell could eventually find themselves squeezed out.

The Israeli-American billionaire and his investment partners are set to pump $325 million into the recession-scarred group, possibly by April.

The capital increase would likely boost the shares of Saban and his associates, giving him the power to dispose of minority shareholders and delist the company if he wishes.

Saban is offering $9.32 for each outstanding unlisted ordinary share. The final results from the offer are expected to be published Nov. 20.

Saban took over 72% of the voting shares in ProSiebenSat 1 from the insolvent Kirch Media in August, becoming the first Hollywood player to control a major German TV asset. He is expected to gain an additional 16.5% voting stake from a separate Kirch Media holding co-owned by German publisher Axel Springer.

P7S1 is financed by Saban Capital Group as well as private equity funds associated with Alpine Equity Partners, Bain Capital Investors, Hellman & Friedman, Providence Equity Partners, Putnam Investments, Quadrangle Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

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