Dresdner to sell Telecinco stake

German bank wants minimum of $538 mil

MADRID — Germany’s Dresdner Bank has begun to shop its 25% stake in Spanish broadcaster Telecinco.

Pointing to “movement in the Spanish market,” a Dresdner Bank spokesman told Daily Variety it could be an opportune time for investors.

“Recent changes in ownership laws as well as Mediaset’s activities haven’t gone unnoticed.”

“We have always maintained that our stake in Telecinco is not a strategic asset. But we are not under any pressure to sell at the moment,” he added.

Although he declined to comment on current negotiations with potential buyers, Monday’s edition of Spanish financial daily La Gaceta de los Negocios quoted a Dresdner source saying the bank had in fact “initiated the process to sell the stake.”

Dresdner inherited the 25% shareholding from the Kirch Group when Kirch used the stake in late 2001 to secure a DM910 million ($538 million) from the bank. The spokesman added that Dresdner was looking to get at least the $538 million it was owed.

Dresdner will be looking to sell its stake as Spain’s broadcasting market slowly recovers. Telecinco posted full-year 2002 net profits of €85.9 million ($100.5 million) off $740.5 million revenues and claimed early 2003 ad revs were up month-on-month on 2002.

The key question is whether companies will want to play second fiddle in Telecinco to Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, which raised its own stake in Telecinco from 40% to a controlling 52% in December, taking advantage of the abolition late last year of ownership ceilings in a single broadcaster. Per the Dresdner Bank spokesman, the relaxation of single broadcaster ownership regs could encourage changes in ownership at Spanish webs.