Kirch Media’s extension granted

Saban has 10 more days to find coin

BERLIN — Creditors of bankrupt TV giant Kirch Media on Tuesday gave billionaire producer Haim Saban an extra 10 days to come up with financing to buy broadcasting group ProSiebenSat 1.

A plan for the 525 million euros ($616 million) payment had been due this coming Saturday. Extension also gives Saban more time to reach an agreement for repaying $1 billion in debt attached to Kirch’s licensing business, which he also is acquiring.

Shaky prospects

Despite the extension, the deal looks more uncertain than ever, as conflicting reports continue to surround the acquisition of Germany’s biggest multichannel broadcaster.

Kirch Media interim chief exec Hans-Joachim Ziems and Kirch creditor banks have hammered out a plan in case the Saban takeover falls through, under which Ziems and former RTL TV topper Helmut Thoma will run Kirch Media, ProSiebenSat 1 and the vast licensing business for a few years until the market picks up and the assets can be sold for more.

For the moment, the creditors expect Saban’s payment by the second week of June at the latest; otherwise ProSiebenSat 1 could find itself in serious financial difficulty.

Looking for partners

Although Saban had assured creditors he would take over the Kirch assets by himself if need be, he is looking for partners and has approached private equity firms Blackstone and Thomas H. Lee about joining his bid.

Saban wants to build a consortium with up to five partners, including French TV group TF1. While the Gallic broadcaster is set to contribute about $175 million for 10% of the assets, the other investors are said to be lukewarm about the deal.

A spokeswoman for Saban said he remains confident the deal will be concluded by mid-June, making Saban the first Hollywood industryite to play a major role in Germany’s TV market.

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